Friday, April 03, 2015
Having been ruled out of the rest of the Aviva Premiership season for Leicester Tigers due to an ongoing groin injury, the powerful centre hasn't played a competitive game of rugby since October 2014 and hasn't played for England since June. Although expected to be fit for England's world cup warm-ups, with the international centre position's so hotly contested, will Stuart Lancaster still want Tuilagi?
The Samoan-born battering ram joined Leicester Tigers in 2010, and since then has played 77 matches amassing 24 tries.
He duly received his England call up during the warm-up matches for the last Rugby World Cup back in 2011, where he scored tries in victories over Wales and Ireland, going on to be recognised as one of the standout players for his country in a largely underwhelming trophy campaign.
Now with 11 tries in 25 caps, Tuilagi will meet with stiff competition as he fights for his place in Lancaster's team.
Traditionally an outside centre for club and country, the 6"1' and 112kg colossus will have to prove he is more of an asset than the in-form Bath midfielder Jonathan Joseph, if he wants the white 13 shirt come September.
Joseph played every match for England through their impressive Six Nations efforts this year, ending the tournament as top try scorer and presenting no clear reason for omission this summer, therefore Tuilagi will have to do something special to oust Joseph from the team.
Luther Burrell was Lancaster's favoured inside centre through the competition, and although a solid player, perhaps this is where Tuilagi should aim his sights.
South African star Bryan Habana believes that would be the right move, saying, "The combination of Ford, Joseph and Tuilagi would be impressive."
He went on to say that, "Jonathan Joseph has shown that his game has improved immensely. He has really grown into that position at Bath and the presence that Luther Burrell brings is good, and Manu Tuilagi is hard to leave out."
That last point is really the crux of the issue - despite Burrell and Joseph both being world class players, and with Brad Barritt, Kyle Eastmond and Billy Twelvetrees in the wings the competition is truly elite, but can Lancaster really afford to leave Tuilagi out?
After all, the presence of the Tigers' centre was a huge factor in England's record 38-21 win over New Zealand at Twickenham in 2012. Scoring a try himself and setting up two others, his performance in the match catapulted his profile within world rugby.
The video below (apologies for some of the bad language) shows some of Manu Tuilagi's best moments. What do you think: should Tuilagi be in the England squad? And if so, which position?
Check the Related Posts for some more of Tuilagi's powerful play
Note: swearing in video. no offence intended
The Hurricanes got the better of the Stormers in their Super Rugby round 8 match in Wellington earlier today. Despite a one sided first half, the Stormers came back in the second, but couldn't quite get the win, going down 25-20.
It was a hard-fought game, at times physically intense, as can be seen here when Julian Savea and Eben Etsebeth came to grips, and played a game of slapsies, smiles and all. Savea actually was smiling at first, then got very serious after the first love tap. Etsebeth, fearless throughout.
It wasn't quite as vicious as when Bismarck Du Plessis and James Horwill did something similar at the Rugby World Cup a few years back, but was equally amusing to see, especially from the comfort of ones living room. Rory Kockott on Adam Thomson, probably the biggest of them all.
Thursday, April 02, 2015
We're giving away no less than five copies of Brian O'Driscoll's The Test autobiography which came out in paperback today.
In his book, the the Irish legend goes way back to where it all began, giving the reader insight into his early years, then all the way to retirement.
He also speaks about personal milestones, such as the special relationships and bonds formed with the likes of Paul O'Connell, Ronan O'Gara and Johnny Sexton.
The Test is a book about how BOD took a world-class talent, developed a world-class work ethic and temperament - and, in the latter stages of his career, reinvented himself as a player.
'O'Driscoll's honesty... takes the reader to a place they simply have not been before' - Irish Independent
'A must-read insight into the life and mind of Ireland's greatest rugby player' - Irish Mail on Sunday
'A thoroughly enjoyable read ... After reading The Test I warmed even more to O'Driscoll as a player and a man. He stood for a new ethos in Irish sport that refused to accept mediocrity or glorious failure' - Irish Times
If you'd like to buy the book, you can do so here
Enter below to win one of five copies of this must-read book for all rugby fans
The Hong Kong Sevens proved to be a brilliant showcase of rugby with the eventual winners Fiji running out as deserving champions beating New Zealand 33-19, overcoming their heartbreak of a semi-final loss to England last year.
World Rugby gives us seven of the best tries from the tournament, and boy did the tournament serve us up some crackers. Tries from Tom Mitchell, Jerry Tuwai, Carlin Isles, Seabelo Senatla and Fraser Lyle meant we were spoilt with some top quality rugby.
Out of all the tries be sure to watch Jerry Tuwai's again as the offload from Pio Tuwai is one of the best you will ever see!
Ulster number eight Nick Williams has been banned for 8 weeks following the incident that took place in the Guinness PRO12 match between Ulster and Cardiff Blues at the weekend. Patchell was knocked out as a result, so a citing and hearing followed, with all details below.
Williams appeared on Thursday before an independent PRO12 Rugby Disciplinary Committee, following a citing for striking an opponent, under Law 10.4(a): Punching or striking. A player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee(s).
The Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Roger Morris (Wales) along with Rhian Williams (Wales) and John Doubleday (England), having viewed footage of the incident and listened to representations made by and on behalf of the player, found that the incident was at the top end of the World Rugby sanctions for this type of offence, meriting a 16 week starting point.
In the absence of any aggravating factors and in light of several mitigating factors, including the player's exemplary previous playing record, the Disciplinary Committee applied a 8 week reduction from the entry point and suspended the player from playing for 8 weeks.
Taking into account the matches remaining this season, and two warm up matches scheduled for the start of next season, Nick Williams is free to resume playing from Monday, 1 September 2015 and has the right of appeal.
You can view the incident below, and original post about it here
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
In the TOP14 match between Bordeaux Begles and LA Rochelle at the weekend, a blatant piece of cheating (or a brilliant piece depending on which way you look at it) occurred when La Rochelle lock Leandro Cedaro used a second ball to stop a Bordeaux attack in its tracks.
Bordeaux had just been awarded a penalty 10 metres out with Begles' Julien Rey running back to collect the ball which had just been kicked away. Another ball is thrown onto the pitch and the home side promptly take a quick tap.
You then see Rey's kicked ball bobble into view a couple of phases later, and when Jefferson Poirot picks and goes from a ruck, Cedaro throws the ball towards him.
The referee immediately blows but whatever excuse Cedaro gives him, he gets away with it as the referee simply tells him it was stupid, and Begles are awarded a scrum.
They score swiftly after but still end up losing the game, 21-22.
What do we think? Was Cedaro's extra ball an attempt at disrupting the attack? Or was he just trying to throw the ball away and it inadvertently looked suspicious?
In a particularly brutal and controversy filled Super Rugby clash between the Sharks and the Chiefs, Francois Steyn was red-carded for an illegal tackle on fly-half Aaron Cruden. The rulings that followed have been quite puzzling to say the least.
Steyn was one of three players to be sent off during the ill-tempered affair, and subsequently also the third to receive a ban – however the circumstances are somewhat bizarre.
His teammate Bismarck du Plessis was dismissed from play having struck an opponent intentionally with his boot, he was cited and the review resulted in a four match suspension.
The process for Steyn's examination and reprimand didn't quite follow the same pattern however.
Having played a significant part in a dangerous tackle on Aaron Cruden, the South African's actions were extensively scrutinised by the TMO and referee during a lengthy stoppage, which included the TMO trying to dissuade the referee from taking too stringent a view.
Referee Angus Gardner went with his gut though, and Steyn was sent from the field.
As was the case with du Plessis, the body which operates Super Rugby, Sanzar, cited the Sharks player and were presented with a decision over whether his actions deserved a ban.
Officer Jannie Lubbe determined that Steyn, whilst involved with the tackle, was not directly responsible for the result and that the force of two teammates entering the contest resulted in Cruden's awkward landing.
Having been cleared of all wrongdoing, and his red card being rescinded, it appeared Steyn's case was over – however, in a somewhat curious twist, Sanzar appealed against their own ruling.
Following this turnaround, an official statement from SANZAR stated:
“The Appeals Committee unanimously upheld the appeal brought by Sanzar and found that Steyn breached Law 10.4 (j) and that the referee was correct to red card the player.”
Further to re-awarding Steyn with his previously repealed sending off, they also decided that the appropriate sanction would be four weeks, and taking into account the Sharks' bye in Round 11 banned Steyn for five weeks, saying he is unable to compete in any form of the sport up to and including the 3rd of May 2015.
Do you think the incident deserved the red-card and a ban?