Monday, October 07, 2013
The Wallabies surprised everyone by running riot in Rosario, beating Argentina 54-17 to keep Los Pumas winless in the Rugby Championship. Israel Folau scored a hat-trick as Ewen McKenzie's chargers restored some pride after a disappointing few months.
Australia would have dropped to sixth on the IRB World Rankings if they'd lost this one, but an impressive performance away from home helped McKenzie avoid becoming the first Wallabies coach to pick up a Rugby Championship wooden spoon.
It was their biggest victory over Argentina in 21 Tests, since they first met in 1979.
Fullback Folau picked up three tries and contributed to a few others as the visitors found gaps in the hosts' defence, with Joe Tomane also looking good with ball in hand.
"It's a real confidence booster for us. We're very, very happy with the result," said captain James Horwill. "We've been working very hard and it's good to see some of the things we've been working on come off. We're really pleased to get the result, especially over here in Rosario."
Felipe Contepomi made his farewell after a record 87 Test caps and 651 points, but it wasn't a game he will remember fondly after being hit off the ball by Rob Simmons, who was yellow carded.
"Congratulations to Australia, they came here against the wall and they played great rugby,'' said Argentina captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.
The Wallabies have one more big challenge before their overseas tour, as they travel to Dunedin to take on the All Blacks in the final Bledisloe Cup Test in two weeks time.
Posted at 6:31 am | 13 comments
Saturday, October 05, 2013
The Springboks knew what was needed to claim the Rugby Championship, and achieved part of the mammoth task by scoring a four try bonus point, but conceded five in what was a thrilling game of rugby, won 38-27 by the All Blacks in the end.
New Zealand won at Ellis Park for the first time in 16 years as they not only beat their greatest rivals away from home, but claimed another Rugby Championship title, going unbeaten all season.
They started the better of the two sides with a brilliant early try to prolific tryscorer Ben Smith. The Springboks then bounced back with two great tries of their own, finished well by Bryan Habana.
First it was Duane Vermeulen that put Habana away, then Francois Louw with an excellent pass before the speedy winger chipped the covering defence. Habana pulled up shortly after that with a hamstring injury, leaving the field on 52 Test tries.
Liam Messam crossed for the All Blacks after a strong build up, and also made a decisive blow just before halftime, after South Africa had attempted to run the ball out from their own 22.
Messam was later yellow carded for slowing the ball down, as was Ben Franks, although his was for a swinging arm to the face of replacement prop Coenie Oosthuizen.
Willie Le Roux scored, and then Jean De Villiers crossed for the all important fourth try but with the All Blacks having scored three of their own at that stage, by the time Beauden Barrett scored it was Championship over for the home side, taking a slight bit of sting out of the contest.
Read, who had an incredible match, got on the end of a neat bit of play by Julain Savea, rubbing salt into the wounds and extending the visitors' lead, securing the well deserved win.
Over 60 000 fans witnessed an unbelievable spectacle, one that will long be remembered as an epic game between the two best teams in the world. A mention should also be made of referee Nigel Owens, who did a stellar job under immense pressure on an enourmous occasion.
Better quality highlights will be posted soon but share your opinion on this classic game below
Posted at 5:43 pm | 41 comments
It's the final round of the Rugby Championship, with a massive decider set up for Ellis Park between the Springboks and the All Blacks, while in Argentina Los Pumas are looking for a huge scalp in the form of a wounded Wallabies side. Now though, it's time to catch up on the Plays of the Week.
Plenty happened last weekend that provided some great material for the Plays team over at Rugby HQ in Australia. From big hits to the occasional scrap, it's all in there. We'll be updating our archive shortly too, making sure that we're up to date and it's all here for your browsing leisure.
For now, enjoy this action packed latest edition, and have a great weekend.
You can view all Plays posts in our Plays of the Week Archive
Posted at 11:32 am | 2 comments
Friday, October 04, 2013
Bath flyhalf George Ford put in another impressive performance in his side's 33-18 victory over London Irish last weekend. In addition to an outstanding try and four conversions, he even had time to develop an unconventional goal kicking technique.
Sadly for George, and despite the crowd's amusement at what could have been a fairly historic moment, his innovative kick did not meet the IRB requirements for a successful kick at goal.
Specifically, it fell short of Law 9.A.2. Kick at goal - special circumstances. (a) If after the ball is kicked, it touches the ground or any team-mate of the kicker, a goal cannot be scored.
Ford has been on the radar for several years. In 2009 he was nominated for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year and in 2011 he became the first Englishman and youngest ever winner of the IRB Junior Player of the Year award. He is now putting in top performances at senior level too.
During the summer he switched from Leicester to Bath, and since moving away from Toby Flood's shadow his performances have been making headlines. Some have suggested an England call up may not be too far away. Amongst his admirers is London Irish director, Brian Smith.
"He's tearing up trees at 10 and England are lucky to have him. George has a lot of control, you can see the way players rally round him, he's a class act. If he keeps playing like this, I don't think England can ignore him for too long," said Smith after the match.
Despite all the plaudits he has been receiving of late, he is sure to stay grounded.
"It's not all about George. We have lots of people in that back line who can excel," said Mike Ford, Bath head coach and once England defence coach. Then again he is George's father.
View full highlights of the match, including his great solo try, on page two below this video
Photo via Onside Images
Posted at 9:30 am | 2 comments
Thursday, October 03, 2013
There have been some outstanding tries scored in the Top 14 lately, with both the best of individual efforts and team tries being celebrated in Canal Plus' compilations of the Top Ten Tries. Today we've got no less than six for you, a total of sixty tries for you.
With so much on around the world of late, including Test rugby in the Rugby Championship, it's been a bit of a challenge to get everything posted as it happens. The French Top 14 Top 10 tries in particular are something that, although they were queued up to post, were neglected a bit.
It is a popular feature though so rather than not share them at all, today we've pumped a whole lot into one post so that you have the option of watching them all, a few randomly, or skipping ahead to the number one tries as we suspect you might do. Either way, sixty great tries is good value.
In the latest round, Round 7, the number one try went to Metuisela Talebula and his superb effort against Racing Metro. Good power, perfectly balanced and with quick thinking, it's a fantastic finish.
There are many other great tries but have a look yourself by using the page numbers under the video, the links below, or just click 'View All', which will place them all on one page. Enjoy.
Posted at 2:12 pm | 3 comments
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
As we reported a month back, former Auckland flyer Rupeni Caucau is back in New Zealand, plying his trade with Northland in the hopes of finding the form he showed in the early days. Total Rugby caught up with him for some insight into his world.
Still regarded as one of the greats that failed to maintain his incredibly high standards, Caucau is back where it all began and looking in pretty good nick, despite being injured at the moment.
In this player profile we hear from the man himself, as well as Northland head coach Derren Witcombe, former Auckland hooker and teammate of Caucau's when he first burst onto the scene.
While there was speculation that he might be returning to France with Lyon, who are in search of an outside back, today it was confirmed that he is unavailable so they will have to look elsewhere.
The former Agen and Toulouse winger played earlier in the ITM Cup season, scoring a couple of tries and combining well with Rene Ranger to set up a few, but unfortunately picked up an injury against North Harbour that has halted his progress somewhat.
He's more determined than ever though, saying that he wants to be a role model for the younger players, and of course wants to put his family in the best possible position for when he retires.
"Now I have three kids. I'm working hard now before I retire, for their future. So when I finish, I have something for my kids, for my family," he explained.
Caucau admits that age isn't on his side so it's a bit of a struggle at times, but he says that he wants to show everyone that he's still got it. We can't wait.
We'll be archiving more Player Features such as this one over time. All feedback is welcomed.
Posted at 9:46 am | 14 comments
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
The European club rugby season kicked off in Cardiff yesterday, where we had the opportunity to speak with the captains and coaches of some of the English and Welsh clubs that will take part in the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup.
The 11 club captains were on hand at the Millennium Stadium to provide their thoughts ahead of the upcoming European season, including Test stars Alun Wyn Jones, Jonathan Davies, Chris Robshaw, Dylan Hartley, Matthew Rees, Steve Borthwick and Toby Flood.
We were fortunate enough to get some time for a casual chat with a few of the players and coaches ahead of what could be the final year of the tournaments as we know them.
ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath, who is of course tasked with trying to keep European club rugby together, spoke at the press conference, reiterating ERC's strong commercial performance with the tournaments having generated 520 million Euro to the professional game since 1995.
The Heineken Cup kicks off on October 11th, with the Amlin Challenge Cup kicking off on the 10th.
You can view a portion of the press conference with Derek McGrath over on page two of this post
Thanks to Lloyd and Rockadove
Posted at 5:44 pm | 3 comments