Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Poor Stuart Olding. His head must look similar to a rugby ball, because for the second time this season his attractive cranium has been roughed up by a boot. This time it was Munster lock Donncha O'Callaghan who did it, and has been suspended.
The incident occurred early in the second half of the Munster and Ulster Thomand Park clash last week Friday. When Olding needed medical attention it wasn't clear to see what happened at first, but replays showed that O'Callaghan's boot made contact with his head.
The 94 times capped Ireland lock appeared before a disciplinary committee in Glasgow, having been cited for allegedly kicking Olding in the Guinness Pro12 match.
They reviewed footage of the incident and listened to representations from, and on behalf of, O'Callaghan. They found that he had committed an act of foul play and upheld the citing complaint.
Their view was that the player's actions had been reckless, but that the primary contact with the opponent had been on his shoulder and chest area. In terms of seriousness, his actions were at the lower end of World Rugby's sanctions for foul play, which carries a 4 week entry-point suspension.
In light of mitagating factors and due to O'Callaghan's clean record over a long playing career, together with his conduct at the hearing, the committee determined that he should be suspended from playing for a period of two weeks, up to and including Sunday, 14 December 2014.
"The committee accepted the action was not intentional," said Munster's team manager.
The ban rules the 35-year-old out of back to back fixtures against Clermont in the European Champions Cup, starting this Saturday at home, before the reuturn fixture in France on Dec 14th.
Olding, who was kicked in the head by Romain Taofifenua just over a month ago (resulting in a three week ban), left the field for treatment but came back on and finished the match.
View the incident below, and official highlights from the match on page two
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Springbok captain Jean De Villiers is set to be out of rugby for at least eight months following the knee injury suffered during South Africa's 12-6 loss to Wales on Saturday. At this stage it looks unlikely that he'll be fit in time for the World Cup.
De Villiers twisted his knee under in a ruck 17 minutes into the second half in Cardiff. His cries of pain could be heard on the live feed, and just as commentator Jonathan Davies said that there won't be replays because of the ugly nature of the injury, one was shown.
The 33-year-old centre went in for the turnover, but was cleared out and as Toby Faletau attempted to twist and move him, the Welsh number eight's weight bent De Villiers' leg in the wrong direction.
He was actually well set but it's a prime example of the risks involved in going in for a turnover in that body position. His loss was massive for the Springboks on the day, as they usually finish well but sorely lacked his leadership in those final twenty minutes.
He will require surgery on the left knee, with all eyes on the Rugby World Cup next year. He dislocated his kneecap and reportedly tore his hamstring at the same time too, so it's going to be a long year of hard work ahead.
A statement on Monday afternoon said that the scans revealed significant ligament damage to the knee, so he will require a surgical reconstruction of the knee.
UPDATE 04/12/2014: De Villiers underwent a successful operation in Stellenbosch earlier today. He had a full reconstruction of the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments of his left knee, with an artificial graft as well as a repair of the medial collateral ligament.
"The procedure went well, but at this stage it is difficult to determine an exact return to play time-frame," said team doctor Craig Roberts. "The use of an artificial graft should speed up his rehabilitation and hopefully increase his chances of making a successful return to the playing field."
De Villiers said: "I would like to thank every medical practitioner involved in my injury, from Saturday when it happened until today’s operation.
"My focus will now be on the arrival of our third child in the coming days. Thereafter it will be about recovering as soon as possible so I can start with my rehabilitation. I still have my sights set on going to next year’s Rugby World Cup and will do everything in my power to get to England.
"I would also like to thank everyone for the well-wishes and support in the last week, it means a lot to me and my family and we really appreciate every message."
Monday, December 01, 2014
Brad Barritt left the field in a awful state as England ended their Autumn Internationals on a high with a 26-17 victory over the Wallabies. The centre took a number of knocks, but said post match that he is fine and it was all part of playing for his adopted country.
Barritt has played professional rugby at a high level since the age of just 19. Even back then, he very quickly became known for his unbelievable courage no matter who he was up against. His defensive effort was key in England's win over old foes Australia on Saturday.
The headclash with Quade Cooper, which can be seen in the video recap below, looked particularly bad. Barritt says that his face, despite being a bit of a mess, is doing okay.
"It's fine. I've spoken at length - I'm definitely not getting any prettier. To be able to do that and put your body on the line for England and for the team is a proud moment for me," he said.
Thanks to that gritty defence, two tries from Ben Morgan and 16 points from the boot of George Ford, Stuart Lancaster's side got one over the Wallabies, who lost three matches on tour.
England's record over the last few weeks stands at played four, won two, with losses to New Zealand and South Africa, but wins over Samoa and then this latest victory over Australia.
"To get the win was extremely pleasing, but we know it's not all smelling of roses and there are things to work on and improvements to be made," said skipper Chris Robshaw.
"We know that when you get to a World Cup you can't afford to lose one or two games because then you are packing your bags and watching everyone else on TV."
credit: England Rugby
The Springboks' end of year tour ended poorly but there was some consolation in the announcement that the great try they scored against New Zealand was named the International Rugby Players' Association (IRPA) Try of the Year 2014.
South Africa lost in the northern hemisphere for the first time in three years, but will take heart from a season that ended with a 71% winning rate, as they won 10 out of their 14 matches. They scored 44 tries in total, conceding only 19, which is their best defensive effort in 15 years.
One of the highlights of the season was the 27-25 victory over New Zealand, and Francois Hougaard scoring this great length of the field team effort. He becomes the third South African to win the IRPA Try of the Year award, after Jaque Fourie in 2009, and Bryan Habana in 2012.
2013 – Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
2012 – Bryan Habana (South Africa) – South Africa v New Zealand
2011 – Radike Samo (Australia) – Australia v New Zealand
2010 – Chris Ashton (England) – England v Australia
2009 – Jaque Fourie (South Africa) – South Africa v British & Irish Lions
2008 – Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland) – Australia v Ireland
This year's panel of judges was made up of Samoa's Seilala Mapusua, New Zealand great Jeff Wilson, Ireland's Alan Quinlan and Scotland's Dan Parks. They chose this effort over the shortlise that included Jamie Roberts, Cornal Hendricks, Magali Harvey and Jonny May.
IRPA Executive Director Rob Nichol said that choosing one winner was a difficult process.
"With so many great international tries during 2014, involving both individual brilliance and collective effort, it is never an easy process to settle on one try. However, when it came down to it, Hougaard’s try stood out for the judges due to the high level of skills involved by different players and, most importantly, the teamwork required to make it happen."
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said that it was truly deserving of the accolade.
"I'd like to congratulate Francois Hougaard on winning this award. It was a fantastic try," he said.
It started from deep within the Springboks' own 22. There was wonderful elusive running, lightning passing, rapid recycling, a deft kick ahead, which was expertly gathered and then a well-timed run from Francois finished it off in style.
"It was a real team effort that demonstrated ambition, enterprise and no little skill against the number one side in the world. In short, it was a try that was truly deserving of this accolade.
"The competition was very stiff for this award with four other great tries in the running. It was particularly pleasing to see the best try of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 being shortlisted. Magali Harvey's score was a real highlight of that tournament and I'd also like to congratulate Jamie Roberts, Cornal Hendricks and Jonny May for their contributions."
View all the tries on the IRPA Try of the Year 2014 shortlist
Saturday, November 29, 2014
League convert Sam Burgess made his highly anticipated Rugby Union debut in last nights 25-6 Bath win over Harlequins at the Rec. It was a short cameo, playing at centre, but showed glimpses of what he could be capable of with ball in hand.
Just seven weeks ago he was playing rugby league, winning the NRL Grand Final after breaking his cheekbone in the first minute. Now he's a rugby union player, and one that has the whole of England, and indeed fans around the world, watching on closely.
His debut came in quite bizarre circumstances, as Harlequins were down to just 12 players after referee Wayne Barnes brandished three yellow cards. It was also raining so the conditions weren't ideal, but post match he had a smile ear to ear, seemingly loving every minute of it.
"I've been mixing it up in training but I think I'll stay at centre for now, certainly over the next few games," said the 25-year-old when asked about what position he'll likely play in.
"But we've got a lot of time. It's certainly not an overnight transition and the worst thing we could do is rush it. It was always going to be hard but I've really enjoyed it and everyone's been open to teaching me things.
"The game's tough to learn and I was sat on the bench a little bit nervous. I haven't felt that for a while but I enjoyed the feeling and the adrenalin and once you get on the field you just enjoy the game," said the former league star who was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal a few weeks back.
He came on in the midfield last night, but Bath coach Mike Ford wants to try him in the forwards.
"The two carries he had were very, very good. He needs to get out there and play and when the pressure's on that will accelerate his learning," Ford said.
"There's a plan there and Sam's first few games are going to come at 12, but when it's dry we're going to have a look at him in the back row as well. Personally, I think that will suit Sam personally more.
"It's a gut feeling of mine as he's a guy who carries and tackles a lot and I don't want to stick him out in the centre to do nothing. That's not his skill set. Can we get him over the gain line with six, seven or eight on his back? Of course we can and the next month or so we'll know where he is.
"My vision is for Sam to be a barnstorming back row and we'll see how it unfolds, it'll be a good journey," Ford, whose son George starts for England at flyhalf today, added.
It's been debated before, but after seeing a bit of him in action and hearing what both he and coach Ford have to say, where do you think Burgess would be best suited?
Friday, November 28, 2014
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Each of the plentiful club facilities are upgradable allowing you to expand on training and tactics that make a great team, and when match day comes, watch all the action unfold in the bespoke 2D and 3D engines, giving instructions in real-time to turn the tide of a match.
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The release date is December 3rd, while the French version will be released around the 16th December. It will be available via several retailers, including as a digital download via Steam.
View more game and purchase information on the official Rugby Union Team Manager website
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How many officially licensed teams are there in Rugby Union Team Manager 2015?
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Thursday, November 27, 2014
This is a lovely bit of action from the World Sevens Series last season, as young Portuguese player João Bello owned up to something that he could so easily have got away with. It's a short clip but it's worth seeing this display of great sportsmanship.
At 17-0 down against Fiji, Portugal needed every inch they could get to try to make it back into the game. They got their chance in the second half, as Fiji had a man yellow carded for throwing the ball away. In 7's, playing against a team a man down is naturally a massive advantage.
South African referee Rasta Rasivhenge assumed it was one of the Fijians, but just as the innocent player was leaving the field - clearly unhappy but abiding to the refs instructions - 19 year old Bello stepped forward to explain to Rasivhenge that it was actually him who did it, not the Fijian player.
You can actually see that his instincts told him to try to get Rasivhenge's attention straight away.
The referee apologised, and thanked Bello, who did this on his Sevens Series debut, with all the odds against his side who could have certainly benefited from playing seven vs six.
It's a truly refreshing moment and one that is all too rare in the competitive world of professional sport these days. This is clearly a great example of what the values of rugby are all about.
credit: Federação Portuguesa de Rugby