Sunday, May 03, 2015
Toulon came from behind to beat Clermont 24-18 and claim a first ever hat-trick of European Cup titles, showing yet again that they have the edge in big games. Clermont's Nick Abendanon scored a sublime try, only to be matched by Drew Mitchell not long after.
Clermont started the better of the two sides and looked as though they could be on track for the long awaited silverware, in this the first year of the new format European Rugby Champions Cup. They led 11-3 at one stage but Toulon pulled things back, and landed a killer blow just before the break through midfield tank, Mathieu Bastareaud.
The second half was thoroughly entertaining, and when Toulon got a turnover and knockon advantage in their own 22m, Bryan Habana attempted to hack the ball down field, only to have it land in the arms of dangerous fullback Abendanon.
What followed was a sumptious chip over the defence for a truly memorable try.
Game on. But just as Abendanon had raised the standards, Australia winger Mitchell hit the line at a lovely angle and proceeded to carve up the hapless Clermont defence, as he slalommed through no less than 6 would be tacklers.
He said post match that the camaraderie of the squad is what carried them through. "We've been questioned a lot lately as a squad.. where we've been, how we've come together, and what we've played for," said tryscorer Micthell.
"But we know internally that we're a pretty driven side out there. We were certainly pushed by Clermont there, they're a fantastic side, right to the end again, the same as a couple of years ago. They could have snatched it at the end there. It's good for us to know that we've got that belief and that respect and that trust in one another."
The victory is another milestone for the likes of Bakkies Botha, Carl Hayman and Ali Williams, who are all retiring at the end of the season. Their winning titles is just too extensive to list.
"I think they can do it again next year: we're seeing the club's recruited very well for next season," said Hayman. "There are three or four older fellas moving on, but they are being replaced well."
In a funny moment post match, Bryan Habana joked that the only positive to come from his dire kick ahead is that he may have helped Nick Abendanon make it into the England squad.
What were your highlights of the match, and with a hat-trick of titles and more top players arriving soon, including Ma'a Nonu, Quade Cooper and Samu Manoa, can Toulon be stopped?
Friday, May 01, 2015
On 14 July 1789 the French Revolution came to a head with the storming of the Bastille, and mayhem ensued. Tomorrow, at Twickenham, a very different kind of French Civil war will take place, although the outcome promises to be the same.
Clermont and Toulon have proven themselves as the crème de la crème of Europe, not just this season, but over the past few years and it is only fitting that they fight it out for the biggest prize in Northern Hemisphere Club Rugby.
They have been in this position before, two years ago in Dublin, when Toulon won 16-15 in a fascinating encounter. Toulon also went on to retain their crown last year.
Since then the left boot of King Jonny has gone, although in Leigh Halfpenny Toulon have a right boot just as lethal. The Armitage brothers, Centres Matt Giteau and Mathieu Bastareaud, and now captain Carl Hayman have all survived the two years and this time round can boast World Cup winners Ali Williams and Bryan Habana as team mates.
Toulon has already beaten Clermont in the Top 14 this season, a division that they lead. There's only going to be one winner tomorrow. Surely? Wrong.
Yes Toulon lead Clermont in the Top 14, but by 4 points and the sides have to still meet at Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin. They were also uncharacteristically beaten by La Rochelle last weekend.
Clermont have made no secret that this competition is their priority, they want to win this, they will also be out for revenge for 2013 an eye on getting revenge and Saracens are an example of what a Clermont side out for payback is capable of.
They also have a squad with stand out players in every position. Nick Abendanon, Fritz Lee, Camile Lopez and Aurelien Rougerie were all nominated for 2015 European Player of the Year; no club had more players represented on the long list.
Everything considered, our verdict for the final is this: Je ne sais pas!
Here is a reminder of how close it was the last time these two teams met in a European Final. Who do you think will come out on top this time around?
With tremendous tries, humongous hits, and baffling bloopers, it's time for the Fox Sports' Plays of the Month from April. Sean Maloney and the team at Rugby HQ take us through all the unforgettable moments from the past 4 weeks of Super Rugby.
Referee Nick Briant can't escape the hilarious clip of him getting 'falconned' right on the nose, as his priceless reaction welcomes us into this month's video. It's also impossible to grow tired of seeing Beauden Barrett's wonder try from Round 8, as it gets another review along with some other oustanding 5-pointers from April, and a look at the "under 74kg" club.
Rounded off with some classic big hits, and another chance to see England sevens player, Marlie Packer, refuse to be tackled as she takes New Zealand's Tyla Nathan-Wong for a ride, once again the world of rugby doesn't disappoint with it's masses of entertaining content.
For more amazing moments from the world of rugby head to our Plays of the Week section.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Sean Maloney and the team at Rugby HQ have crammed loads of great content into this week's Wraparound. With Australian international Matt Toomua on hand to provide some extra insight, sit back and enjoy another classic video from the guys down under.
Not satisfied with scoring his first try for the Brumbies, David Pocock's first half hat-trick leads the agenda - with Sean showing that the Aussie flanker isn't the only one who knows a little Auslan, after it was revealed that Pocock's 'jazz hands' were in fact sign language for applause.
If you haven't already seen the clip of the "Tongan Thor" Taniela Tupo's impressive play from last week, be sure to catch it here. With footage from the other touchline, the strength of the 135kg prop is impressive to behold, capped off with a slick offload as his teammate scores.
There's another look at Ian Prior's sending off for his dangerous tackle on Tim Nanai-Williams, with a comparison to Sitiveni Sivivatu's 'flip tackle' from back in 2008 on the same ground, for which the winger incredibly only saw yellow - highlighting the development of the law.
Along with all of this there's a great clip of an innovative lineout move from grassroots side Old Halesonians, some not so impressive moments from the Lions record breaking fifth consecutive victory, and a failed high 5 that was hilariously caught on camera.
Make sure you stick about until the end to see Wallabies Legend, Tim Horan, getting a little too close to Fox Sports presenter, Nick McCardle, with amusing consequences in the studio!
Check out our Plays of the Week archives for more great videos from Rugby HQ.
credit: Fox Sports Australia
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
We recently ran a competition for our first ever official Rugbydump supporters jersey. Alongside partners Akuma Rugby, we deliberatly created just a handful, and the giveaway proved to be so popular that we've decided to do it again, this time with an all new design.
We're setting out to create something special each time, and we believe that this one has hit the mark, going for a darker colar and grungey look throughout, with the Rugbydump logo prominently displayed. All in all, we're very proud to put our name to this.
This time we're giving away four in total, so get entered below now to stand a chance of winning this limited edition piece. If your name is drawn, we'll get your jersey made to fit.
T&C's: Winners will be drawn at random. Entries close 20 May 2015
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
With only 2 rounds left to go of this seasons Aviva Premiership things are really starting to heat up, both in the race for a top 4 finish and for the last European rugby spot. One things for sure though, this season is going to go right down to the wire.
Wasps scrum half Joe Simpson was easily the pick of the tryscorers, however further fantastic finishes came from Jonathan Joseph, Charlie Walker, Billy Twelvetrees and Tom Arscott.
We've put together a recap from each match, including official highlights, on page two
The Shortball highlights from Round 11 are packed with some amazing clips, all wrapped up in a great video from the guys at Fox Sports. From terrible tackles to sensational scores, Sean Maloney leads the way through all the events from the past weekend.
Ian Prior's tip tackle on Tim Nanai-Williams doesn't look any better the second time around, and it only went downhill from there for the Western Force as they suffered a 35-27 defeat to The Chiefs on the night, meaning they occupy bottom spot on the Super Rugby table.
David Pocock's first half hat-trick is undeniably impressive and worth another look as the Brumbies flanker continues his fine form. The turnover wizard is hot on the heels of Australia captain, Michael Hooper, as both look to claim the starting 7 jersey before the World Cup.
As if Beauden Barrett's spectacular 5-pointer's in Round 8 and Round 10 weren't enough for the Hurricanes, they've gathered the Try of the Week title for Round 11 also, with another exceptionally skillful score, this time finished by TJ Perenara against the Reds.
It's all capped off with some trademark monster hits, a look at how the Reds paid their respects on Anzac day, and a quick piece of nostalgia with a classic clip of All Black legend Zinzan Brooke's enormous drop goal against England in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
As April comes to an end, keep an eye out for the Plays of the Month post compiling all the best, worst, and unforgettable moments from the past 4 weeks of Super Rugby.
For more Shortball highlights head to our Plays of the Week section.
credit: Fox Sports Australia