Friday, February 28, 2014
Last weekend Georgia and Romania secured their places at Rugby World Cup 2015 following victories in the FIRA-AER European Nations Cup Division 1A. Georgia beat Russia 36-10 in front of over 50 000 fans in Tbilisi, while Romania beat Spain 32-6.
The team that finishes top of the ENC table will secure the prestigious Europe 1 place at England 2015, joining New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Africa 1 in Pool C.
Romania and Georgia have an unassailable lead in the competion, which doubles as RWC qualification. The runner up will join Pool D with France, Ireland, Italy and Canada.
The two teams face off in Tbilisi on March 15th to decide Europe 1 and 2.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset was present to witness the great occasion in Tbilisi.
"The European process has been a highlight of the Rugby World Cup qualification process delivering some incredibly competitive and compelling matches," said Lapasset.
"On behalf of the IRB I would like to congratulate both Georgia on Romania for booking their places at England 2015 where they will showcase the best of European international Rugby. The scene is now set for a fascinating contest in Tbilisi where the coveted Europe 1 place looks to be decided."
EXTRA: View both full matches on page two of this post
The IRB will be providing a live stream of the decisive match in Tbilisi on rugbyworldcup.com
Posted at 12:40 pm | 31 comments
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Here's a quick video that includes a must see super slow-mo of a pretty nasty off the ball shot by Chiefs prop Jamie Mackintosh. The hit is on the indestructible man, Richie McCaw, who was left on the floor in a heap and must have been wondering how Mackintosh stayed on the field.
It didn't look like much at first but the excellent camera work and slow-mo replays show the shoulder making contact with first the chest, then McCaw's somewhat distorted face.
You can view more big shots featuring Mackintosh and McCaw in the Related Posts below
Posted at 6:02 pm | 42 comments
Clermont scrumhalf Morgan Parra has been suspended for two weeks for head-butting Montpellier's Rene Ranger in their Top 14 clash at the weekend. He has only just been called into the France squad, but will miss their next match, against Scotland.
In what was a strange sequence of play, Parra took a quick tap penalty behind the referees back after Montpellier infringed at a ruck. Ranger, who had his back turned, caught what was happening in the corner of his eye so casually inserted his gumguard, then smashed the fiesty Frenchman.
Ranger clearly wasn't ten meters away so while Parra had a right to be less than pleased, his way of dealing with it - by charging with his head - is what got him in trouble.
A yellow card for Ranger followed, before a shocked home crowd watched as referee Sébastien Minery showed Parra red, leaving Clermont with just 14 men for the rest of the match.
"I feel deep frustration and anger over the red card for Morgan Parra," said Clermont's Kiwi coach, Vern Cotter. "I hope that at the disciplinary hearing there will be reasonable and intelligent people who will see it was not deserved."
The LNR (Top 14's governing body) ruled that Parra is suspended for two consecutive matches on the grounds of 'excitability'. Parra and Clermont have opted not to appeal the decision.
He will miss their match against Bordeaux-Begles, and then France's clash with Scotland on the 8th March. He will however be available to face Ireland at the Stade De France a week later.
Despite being a man down, Montpellier's Francois Trinh-Duc was yellow carded shortly before Ranger returned, giving Clermont a lifeline that they duly accepted, and went on to win 42-16. That takes their Stade Marcel Michelin record to 73 matches in a row unbeaten, dating back to 2009.
Posted at 11:32 am | 47 comments
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
We've seen that over the years referee Wayne Barnes is one that isn't to be messed with on the field. He's usually a strong disciplinarian and is capable of handling even the toughest rugby players out there. He's no pushover physically either, apparently.
Poor Saracens hooker Schalk Brits found out the hard way after coming face to face with the English referee, and coming off well and truly second best.
An overthrown lineout resulted in loose ball and Barnes and Brits both running in different directions, but in the same path. The Barnes bodycheck prevailed, with Brits tumbling to the floor.
"I am not going to hear the end of this, I guess. thanks #refcam," Brits said on Twitter, before following up with: "I had the worst 40 min of my life. got owned by a winger twice and then by Barnes! #disgrace"
Ref Cam, which some fans still aren't mad about, probably just went up a notch in terms of popularity, and it's safe to say that Barnes loved every minute of it.
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Posted at 1:20 pm | 6 comments
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
On Saturday Gibraltar hosted Israel in what was only their third ever Test match, held at Victoria Stadium. The underdogs achieved an impressive 25-12 victory, but felt the might of the 49th ranked side in the first half with this thundering try saving tackle.
Israel, who play in division 2B of the European Nations Cup, were reportedly treating this as a warm-up game and clearly didn't expect Gibraltar to offer much resistance. The hosts played their first Test in 2011, and are currently battling for FIRA/AER (European Rugby Federation) recognition.
They surprised everyone with the win, and it'll go a long way towards building rugby in the region.
A packed stadium were on hand to witness the victory, and seemed to enjoy this huge tackle too, even if it was on one of their own players, centre Adrian Thomas.
Flyhalf Harvey Armstrong made a great break with a dummy and offload, putting Thomas through the gap as he broke the tackle. A try looked certain, but big number eight Yonatan Kaplan came out of nowhere to make a massive covering hit.
Thomas seemed to jump into it slightly, which no doubt made it more spectacular as he was flung onto his back and slammed to the turf, right in front of referee Julian Bevan of Wales.
Mr Bevan felt that the tackle was okay, and reportedly viewed Kaplan's tackle as having been legal due to an attempt to grasp the player with both arms (even if it did look like a clothesline).
To his credit, Thomas presented the ball nicely and his team continued to attack. The Gibraltar union have since told us that they have no complaints about the tackle.
View an animated gif of the tackle on page two of this post. Note: We realise the quality of both the image up top and the video is poor. If we get better we'll replace asap.
credit to Rockstream.tv
Posted at 1:28 pm | 64 comments
Monday, February 24, 2014
Super Rugby is now officially under way with a full set of matches in the second round, and one or two big upsets to keep everyone on their toes. Here's a quick look at some of the best tries scored over the course of the weekend.
Look out for great power from Robbie Fruean, up against his former side the Crusaders, to start things off. The Highlanders, Blues, Reds, Lions and Waratahs also scored excellent tries.
Are there any tries that aren't here that you think should be? Which is your favourite?
Posted at 10:09 am | 12 comments
There is a four-way tie at the top of the Six Nations table following England's tight 13-10 victory over Ireland on Twickenham on Saturday. England, Ireland, France and Wales are all on four points with two rounds left to play.
England came back from being 10-3 down after a well taken Rob Kearney try from Ireland. Mike Brown's break in the second half led to scrum-half Danny Care sprinting away, before the home side held on for a tense win.
Attention now turns to Wales, who England play next in two week's time.
"The Six Nations is open for everyone given the way the results have gone. It's been a fantastic championship this year," said coach Stuart Lancaster.
"We'll enjoy this win but we know that there's a big, big challenge coming in two weeks' time."
"We respect Wales because of what they've achieved over the last couple of years and their performance against France has given them confidence, so it will be a great game," he added.
An England win over Wales will give them the Triple Crown, but no team in the tournament can win a Grand Slam. Ireland are in the best position for an overall victory, with a points difference of +42, compared with England's +21, Wales' +6 and France's +1.
So despite the loss, Ireland are looking good and face Italy at home next, in what will be then Test cap record holder Brian O'Driscoll's final test at home. All four sides are still very much in it though, so the final two rounds of play will be fascinating to watch.
Posted at 7:00 am | 121 comments