Wednesday, May 27, 2015
The Aviva Premiership Final is fast approaching as fans gear up for an epic showcase, as Saracens edged Northampton and Bath ran riot in Leicester in the semi finals. Today we're letting you know about a way to get your hands on tickets for the big day at Twickenham.
StubHub UK are giving fans a chance to be at the game, which promises to be a fascinating battle between the flair of Bath's talented backs, and the power Saracens have shown up front. Fill out your details here for a chance to witness the season finale.
With all to play for at a packed house, make sure you don’t miss out on what is sure to a classic final. Follow the link then hit the day to enter to win a pair of tickets for the final.
Dylan Hartley will appear before a RFU Disciplinary panel later today, charged with striking an opponent with the head in the Aviva Premiership semi final between Northampton Saints and Saracens. If found guilty, Hartley could jeopardise his position with England.
Defending champions Saints lost 29-24, but the incident took place as flanker Tom Wood drove over to score. As you can see, Hartley was celebrating, then turned around and walked straight into opposition hooker, Jamie George, making contact with his head.
A scuffle ensued and ref Greg Garner asked the TMO to bring it up on the big screen, but he was satisfied that there was nothing in it, so play continued. Hartley was later cited.
Hartley has been suspended five times for various offences ranging from biting to gouging, to insulting a referee. All of that will play against him if found guilty at the hearing.
The hearing will be held at the Coventry Holiday Inn on Wednesday 27th May at 7.15pm.
UPDATE: Dylan Hartley has been suspended for four weeks.
Gloucester scored twice in extra time to beat Connacht 40-32 in a thrilling European Champions Cup playoff match. The Irish side led with a minute left to play, but Gloucester took the game to extra time, then Jonny May settled it with a brilliant 75-meter try.
With 40 seconds left in the match Connacht led 25-18. The Man of the Match was chosen, and the commentary team spoke in jest about going to extra time. Referee Romain Poite then made a huge call, penalising Connacht when it looked like Gloucester were infringing.
A try followed, as Billy Meakes danced his way through despite calls of obstruction, leaving Connacht coach Pat Lam scratching his head. "That try [by Meakes] looked like a block to us but the TMO ruled against and you've got to live with those tough calls."
Greg Laidlaw converted the try and the sides were taken to Extra Time at 25-25.
Connacht scored a try in the 92nd minute through Matt Healy, before Gloucester drove over the line to take a 33-32 lead with five minutes left.
From the kickoff the wise thing to do would have been to hang on to the ball, or pump it downfield, but it landed in the arms of Jonny May, and he felt like having a bit of a run.
May's dazzling footwork allowed him to beat no less than four players, before linking with Billy Twelvetrees who fed Meakes and then got the return ball back, then fed May on the inside for an outstanding try and the killer blow that drove the nail in the coffin for Connacht.
"I don't know where that came from," said May post match. "I'm seeing stars. I'm so exhausted, but you just find the energy. It's just a case of getting the ball and running into space and trying not to think."
Gloucester's director of rugby, David Humphreys, said that May should have kicked it out, but his natural instinct took over and that's what makes him such a valuable player.
"The instruction was to kick the ball out but Jonny just does what he does. A fantastic try. Every great team needs X-factor players and Jonny gives us and England that X-factor.
"It was a moment of individual brilliance for a remarkable try. I have run out of superlatives for him, he's an X factor player and if England want to win a World Cup, I think it would be very hard for them to leave him out."
The victory sets up a Champions Cup play-off final against Bordeaux-Begles in Worcester on May 31st. The winners of that game will secure the final Champions Cup spot.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Most young rugby players fail hard in the gym because they use crap workouts meant for bodybuilders and not rugby-specific training. Any amount of training is going to help, but it will be boys against men when you face players who are properly trained for rugby.
Today, we’re launching our new Rugby Strength Academy which is the fastest, most effective way to get trained for rugby. And for this week, you can get your first two months FREE:
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See an example of coaches Dave, Andy and Ben in action below
Monday, May 25, 2015
Waratahs tight forwards Will Skelton and Tolu Latu have been suspended for two and four weeks respectively following a lifting tackle against the Crusaders on Saturday. In a repeat of last year's Super Rugby final, the Waratahs won the match 32-22.
Skelton was involved in a few incidents that had to be checked by the TMO, with the shoulder shot on Richie McCaw one that Crusaders fans wouldn't have been too happy with.
This challenge, combined with hooker Tolu Latu, has resulted in a two week ban for the giant, with Latu, who was yellow carded, picking up four weeks on the sidelines.
"Two offending players, Skelton and Silatolu Latu, were involved in the incident," said SANZAR's Robert Stelzner SC, who precided over the disciplinary hearing.
"Latu played a more active role in the lifting and twisting of their opponent, Sam Whitelock, contributing more significantly to the end result than Skelton. Skelton nevertheless also lifted and twisted Whitelock in the tackle, which is why he too was found to have breached the applicable Law.
"Given the lesser extent of his involvement however, the sanction in the case of Skelton did not in my view warrant an increase from the entry level sanction to serve as a deterrent.
"He was unaware of the actions of his fellow player, Silatolu Latu, and although he dropped his opponent after he had lifted and turned him, it appeared that Latu was the player who had continued with the tip tackle causing their opponent to land in the manner in which he ultimately did."
Law 10.4 (j) Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player’s feet are still off the ground such that the player’s head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play.
The Waratahs plan to appeal the bans, while coach Michael Cheika was pleased with Skelton's menacing influence around the park. He defended his tackling technique.
"I'm not sure what he's done wrong with his tackling technique, he's just been tackling guys. The thing with Whitelock was a little bit unfortunate because he was just trying to get him down on the ground. Two guys like that can't really know what the other is doing.
"Will is taller than everyone, so he doesn't really tackle in the traditional style, of getting down. He wraps arms around and he goes to the upper body to wrestle guys to the ground a bit more because he's a big guy."
Francois Steyn was recently banned for a tip tackle that also involved another player, so while the incidents aren't identical, it's interesting that on this occasion both tacklers received bans.
UPDATE: Both players have had their appeals rejected. Full details
Sunday, May 24, 2015
Glasgow Warriors will play Munster in the final of the Guinness Pro12 at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast next weekend after both sides triumphed in two tantalising home semi-finals.
The Warriors struck late to beat Ulster at Scotstoun to reach their second consecutive final while Munster overcame a last minute scare to overcome the Ospreys in Limerick to secure their first final since 2011 where they beat Leinster 19-9.
Glasgow 16-14 Ulster
Despite having the crucial home advantage, Glasgow looked out of sorts for the large majority of the encounter. Ulster took the lead after 30 seconds through a Ruan Pienaar penalty but two kicks from Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg gave the home side a 6-3 lead.
The visitors had plenty chances in the opening 40 minutes and if not for desperate Glasgow defence and the occasional handling error, Ulster should have scored earlier than they did. Chris Henry's well worked 18th minute try gave Ulster a deserved lead and increased momentum.
Glasgow's indiscipline and inaccuracy seemed to have got the better of them and Gregor Townsend's men looked at times, a defeated side. A further two Russell penalties sandwiched a second Pienaar kick to leave the scores standing at 11-9.
Pienaar looked to kick the final nail into the Glasgow coffin with a superb long range penalty to give Ulster a 14-9 lead with little more than 10 minutes left on the clock. But Glasgow fought back brilliantly and, after several piercing attacks, a perfectly weighted Russell pass floated into the hands of Canadian international wing DTH van der Merwe who scored the equalising try.
Russell then consummately slotted the touchline conversion under immense pressure to ultimately secure the win.
Munster 21-18 Ospreys
Having scored three tries and raced into a 21-8 lead, Munster seemed to be coasting to another League final. But Ospreys came roaring back and nearly caused one of the biggest upsets in the league's history.
An ebb and flow first half saw neither side gain much momentum but as half-time approached it was Munster who struck first with a superbly worked try for Simon Zebo. An inside ball from half-back Ian Keatley put Number 8 CJ Stander into open space before neat hands from flanker Paddy Butler sent Zebo in for an easy finish.
From then on it seemed as though Munster would continue to flex their muscles. A further try from Denis Hurley just after half-time saw the home side extend their lead to 16-3. But a loose pass off the back of a scrum from Stander was beautifully picked up by on-coming Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb reduced the gap to eight points.
Munster responded almost immediately and scored their third try courtesy of Paddy Butler's 49th minute score. The flanker ran a superb line and used his considerable bulk to power over the line to make it 21-8.
But such was the nature of the encounter, the Ospreys did not relent and scored a spectacular solo try from winger Jeff Hassler relit the match once more.
With the match on a knife edge, the Ospreys thought they had scored in the 80th minute through Josh Matevesi. But after sensibly checking with his TMO, referee Nigel Owens confirmed that Webb had indeed knocked on at the beginning of the attack, thus giving Munster a dramatic win.
Poor James O'Connor. Things just didn't go well for him against the Sharks on Friday night, including a bit of a halftime spat with a team mate, then late in the game with this absolute howler of a kick that landed square in the bread basket of Stefan Ungerer.
The first half was frustrating for O'Connor and the Reds, who went 10-0 down within 15 minutes following a try from Sharks number nine, Ungerer.
By halftime it was 16-7 and on the hooter O'Connor, Adam Thomson and Will Genia failed to take advantage of a bit of space down the blindside. O'Connor was visibly frustrated, and that boiled over into the change room, as cameras caught he and All Black Thomson having a full go at one another. Genia was peacemaker, and later played down the incident.
With ten minutes left in the game the former Wallaby star received a loopy pass from Karmichael Hunt then screwed the clearing kick straight into the arms of Ungerer, who incredibly had actually just pulled a muscle as he attempted to place pressure on the kick.
He gave up the chase, but must have been as shocked as everyone else as the ball landed straight in his arms, allowing him to stride a few paces, injured leg and all, and dive over for his second try of the night.
"It was a brilliant catch and James O’Connor was devastated," said Tim Horan of the incident.
The mistimed kick summed up the night, and at times the season, as the Reds chances seemed to fade away as the Durban based Sharks held on for a much needed 21-14 win.
"It's a team sport. You never like seeing individuals take a blow like that," said Reds skipper James Slipper. "It's obviously not what we wanted but we're going to have to rally around him."
See more Bloopers and bizarre bits of play in the See It To Believe It section