Thursday, July 11, 2013
The latest Plays of the Week aired on Rugby HQ in Australia a few hours ago, no doubt featuring some introspective analysis of what could have been with the Wallabies, who now have a new coach in the form of Ewen McKenzie.
In amongst all that, Sean Maloney and the Plays team put together another great segment, this time focussing on awards from the series, including Best Dressed, Best Try and a few others.
Posted at 6:08 pm | 27 comments
The Cheetahs scored three tries to beat the Blues 34-13 and reach the Super Rugby playoffs for the first time in their history. They had a few tries disallowed too, including this from Ligtoring Landman, who took a big knock but got up to run it in, and celebrate.
The Cheetahs have beaten off challenges from fellow South African sides the Stormers and the Sharks to reach the playoffs for the first time. The Sharks had a chance, but their narrow 20-19 loss to the Bulls ruled them out of contention.
The men from Bloemfontein have a bye next week, which will earn them four points and ensures that they will make the top six a week before the final round of the competition.
"We've got a bit of a rest now but we'll still be training for the playoffs, that's for sure," said skipper Adriaan Strauss, who credited their win to an altered mindset this season.
"Our mindset is definitely the difference between this year and last year. This year we really have the belief that we can make it. This week we stuck to the structures a bit more and every guy just focused on his own job. And it worked on the day."
Both Johann Sadie and Rynard 'Ligtoring' Landman had tries disallowed after TMO decisions ruled them out when they thought they had scored. In Landman's case, it was from a forward pass.
He was smashed by Rene Ranger earlier in the phase and if you watch him closely, you'll see that it looked as though he might need a bit of a timeout. But lock Ligtoring - which means Lighthouse in Afrikaans - popped up on the wing to take the pass and sprint in for a would be try, before bringing out a classic lawnmower celebration.
The try wasn't allowed as the pass was quite obviously forward, but it was a great sequence of play.
We had the big tackle, the celebration (which included a bit of a cuddle from 6 ft 9 locking partner Lodewyk De Jager), and then to make it even more comical, commentator Owen Nkumane thought that Landman was 'getting his Harley on the go'.
Posted at 10:09 am | 7 comments
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) have put together a fascinating timelapse video of the third Test in Sydney, focussing on the field from the time the gates opened to when they closed. There are almost 5000 photos in total, shot over 6 hours and condensed into just 3 minutes.
Watch as we see the stadium begin to fill up, the match with all the movement on the field, the presentation and victory laps afterwards, and even the groundsmen watering the field.
Posted at 3:22 pm | 3 comments
Wallaby legend George Smith has played his final game for his country, but it didn't go entirely to plan as he was knocked out just minutes into the deciding Test against the Lions. He somehow returned to the field, but was less effective than planned.
Smith, who turns 33 this coming Sunday, made his return to Wallaby colours after a four year absence, last having played Test rugby in 2009 against Wales. It was anything but a fairytale return however, with the Lions thumping the Wallabies 41-16 to take the series.
With the Wallabies missing the services of key man David Pocock, Smith was a surprise selection, replacing up and coming flanker Michael Hooper.
As with the first Test against the Lions, a knockout blow early on affected Robbie Deans' plans. This time it was Smith who went off after an awful head clash with Hooker Richard Hibbard.
"It obviously affected me. You saw me snake dancing off the field. I passed the (concussion) tests that were required within those five minutes and I got out there.
"But the impact that I envisioned before the game, coming out to do it, didn’t eventuate. That’s my role to disrupt play within that breakdown area. I don't think I did that well enough," he said.
Having played rugby in France and Japan, Smith has been with the Brumbies more recently, but his selection drew raised eyebrows. If he hadn't been knocked out, you can be sure he'd have played a bigger role, but he says it was one of the most disappointing games he's been a part of.
"I’ve been disappointed with losses, there's no doubt about that. But because it was such a big game and a big score as well, I’m disappointed.
"I've had a great career. I'm very fortunate to have been considered for this series as well. I think it’s time for the young guys and the guys who have been working hard within Australian rugby to have a chance," added Smith, who will now focus on Super Rugby with the Brumbies.
Coach Robbie Deans, who was sacked earlier this week, heaped praise on Smith for a great career.
"Obviously it's not the way he would have liked to have finished, but it was tremendous that he could get a send-off in Australia. He's a great player. He deserves the respect that he's got."
Below is a quick look at the knockout blow, and Smith's courageous return to the field.
Posted at 9:36 am | 29 comments
Monday, July 08, 2013
Sharks flyhalf Butch James has been suspended for four weeks for a dangerous tackle he made during the 20-19 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday night. The Bulls scored a try following the tackle, which ultimately gave them the win.
James had been involved in an earlier altercation with lock Wilhelm Steenkamp, who appeared to charge into a ruck with his head. James lashed out with a slap to the face, before yanking his hair.
The TMO checked for foul play but for some reason the producers didn't go back far enough, so Steenkamp wasn't punished on the field. He has been cited however, and will appear before a disciplinary committee for an alleged headbutt on Tuesday.
A few minutes later James made this awful high tackle on Jurgen Visser, flying into and clothes-lining the Bulls centre, earning him a yellow card for it.
Visser handled things brilliantly as he shrugged it off and played on, and was actually the player that made a break through the defence before putting scrumhalf Jano Vermaak away for the winning try. Morne Steyn converted to give them the lead, and despite a late shot at goal that would have won the Sharks the match, the Bulls held on in front of their home crowd.
James apologised to Visser on the way from the field, but he has been suspended for four weeks.
"After careful consideration was given to the video evidence of the incident, the citing report, the report of the referee, the previous disciplinary record of the player and his playing commitments in the future," read a statement from SANZAR.
"[Judicial officer Jannie] Lubbe determined that the player should be suspended for a period of four weeks from July 6 up to and including August 4 2013.
"The sanction was offered to the player who accepted the proposed sanction. The player was accordingly suspended from all rugby from July 6 to August 4, 2013."
UPDATE: You can now view the Steenkamp charge into the ruck on page two here
Posted at 1:35 pm | 18 comments
While the Wallabies suffered a defeat to the Lions, they have plenty of talent waiting in the wings, as can be seen here in the Brisbane Premier Rugby Competition.
This short clip shows 18-year-old 2012 Australian Schoolboy Michael Gunn, playing for Easts Rugby Union Club, chopping down former Wallaby wing 'Rocket' Rod Davies.
It's a great tackle just as Davies attempts to glide through a non-existent gap, and as you can tell from the crowd's reaction, a fairly big moment as the young gun took out the Reds flyer.
[Note: Turn the volume down as it's pretty loud on the clip!]
See more big hits and great tackles in our Big Hits section
Posted at 8:27 am | 5 comments
Saturday, July 06, 2013
The British and Irish Lions have beaten the Wallabies 2-1 after a convincing 41-16 victory in Sydney. Leigh Halfpenny, who was named Man of the Series, set up two tries and kicked brilliantly yet again. It was the first Lions series victory since 1997.
The Lions shot out to an early lead and maintained their momentum, at one stage leading 19-3 before the Wallabies fought back before halftime with a try to James O'Connor.
They picked up the tempo in the second half and brought the scores even closer with the boot, trailing just 19-16 before the Lions ran away with it and ultimately came away convincing winners.
While all the prematch talk had been about midfield selections, it was up front where one could say that game was won, as the Lions dominated and gained valuable momentum through powerful performances from Adam Jones, Richard Hibbard and Alex Corbisiero.
"I thought Alex Corbisiero was Man of the Match. We said all along he was unlucky with selection," said coach Warren Gatland in the post match press conference.
Gatland also spoke of the manner in which his side played, and the physical toll of the tour, and tonights game. "We spoke about being prepared to go to a place where most players don't put their bodies, to the limit. I think we've played some great rugby on this tour. We were able to put it together tonight in that second half.
"These guys have done themselves proud, they've done the jersey proud. I hope the next 48hrs doesn't get out of hand!" he added.
We'll have more reaction, highlights and clips over the course of the next few days. Until then, congratulations to the Lions and their fans, and commiserations to the Wallabies and the whole of Australia, who clearly embraced the tour and were great hosts.
Posted at 12:56 pm | 102 comments