Thursday, February 27, 2014
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 | 65 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 | 13 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
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Scotland scored two tries and slotted a drop goal with time up to snatch a 21-20 victory from Italy in Rome on Saturday afternoon. Duncan Weir took his team into the lead at the death in what has become the yearly battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
Alex Dunbar scored twice for the visitors, while Tommy Allan and Joshua Furno scored for Italy as they looked on course for their first win of the campaign. Weir's calm head under pressure broke the hearts of all at the Stadio Olimpico. He said he was 'absoultely delighted' with the kick.
"It's the first time I have dropped a goal for Scotland and it has never been more important.
"In those pressure moments you can only focus on your routine. I made sure I got my ball drop right and got a clean connection. I'm just so thankful it went over.
"I ran off celebrating, going off my head. It was an immense feeling. I had no doubts about taking it on. Chris Cusiter put it on a plate for me, on the right side of my body. The whole thing went perfectly," added Weir.
Despite Weir's confidence in his own ability, Scotland coach Scott Johnson said he was surprised.
"I've been watching him in training for the three weeks and he hasn't looked like kicking one. I was delighted for him, because his is a position that carries a lot of responsibility. I seen some growth in the lad and I'm so pleased for him," Johnson said.
"We can't get carried away with a win that could have gone the other way. We got a little bit of luck but we showed great resolve. But it won't mean a lot if we don't put on a show against France."
Scotland play France at Murrayfield in two week's time, while Italy travel to Dublin to play Ireland.
Posted at 4:38 pm | 8 comments
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Wales's Six Nations campaign is back on track after they scored two tries to beat France 27-6 on Friday night. The defending champions ended France's unbeaten run in the tournament and bounced back from their own disappointing loss two weeks ago.
George North, starting at centre for the first time in a Test match, scored Wales' opening try before camptain Sam Warburton powered over in the second half. Referring to the loss to Ireland, Warburton said that this was exactly the response he wanted from his side.
Coach Warren Gatland added that they are back in contention (for a third successive title).
"I am often grumpy with these guys, but I am happy with that. The performance against Ireland wasn't good enough. We let ourselves down in Dublin. They responded well, with a good performance and a fantastic result," he said.
"The atmosphere was sensational and the players responded brilliantly to the pressure we put on them. I'm a great believer in giving players a chance to redeem themselves, and I think that's definitely what happened.
"When you're involved in a game that doesn't go your way, you want the chance to go out there and put things right. We have got a big game at Twickenham in a couple of weeks, but hopefully today will be a platform for that," he added.
Note: Below are updated extended highlights from the match
Posted at 1:03 pm | 68 comments