Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Saracens winger Chris Ashton escaped a misconduct charge earlier this week after he had attempted to put off Harlequins flyhalf Nick Evans during the Premiership Semi Final on Saturday. Ashton shouted 'push it' as Evans attemped a conversion kick.
Harlequins fullback Mike Brown scored a try just before halftime and as Evans was about to attempt the conversion, foot about to strike the ball, Ashton shouted at him in an attempt to distract him.
Evans slotted the kick and the players went into the tunnel for halftime, but it caused a bit of a melee and some England teammates took him aside to have a word. Whether it was it was frustration boiling over or just intended as banter, Quins weren't amused, and neither were the RFU.
They reviewed the incident and released a statement regarding respect being one of the core values of Rugby. The RFU Head of Discipline, Gerard McEvilly, spoke to Ashton about the incident, his responsibilities towards the game and his future conduct. A written warning was set to follow.
Had Evans missed the kick, he would more than likely have had another attempt at it and perhaps if it weren't halftime, referee Wayne Barnes may have even considered restarting with a penalty on the halfway line. As it was, Ashton appeared to get a telling off by some of the Quins players.
"Humility is up on the walls here and around the stadium, and honesty," said Harlequins coach Conor O'Shea post match. "It wasn't part of what you would expect someone to do, but we leave it. They are worthy finalists, worthy winners. Move on,"
Posted at 10:13 am | 70 comments
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Northampton Saints prop Salesi Ma'afu has received a one week ban for punching Tom Youngs in the Aviva Premiership Semi Final. You can view the incident below, as well as an animated gif and the viral Twitter interaction between the players on page two.
Former Wallabies prop Ma'afu was red carded for striking Youngs midway through the second half of Friday night's action packed 21-20 semi final win for Saints against Leicester Tigers.
The two came to blows at the back of a rolling maul and after a bit of a slap to the side of the head and a few other exchanges, Ma'afu lost his cool and unleashed an almighty one-two combination that floored the England and British & Irish Lions hooker.
Referee JP Doyle handled the situation well and opted to yellow card Youngs, then red card the hard hitting prop, who was later cited and faced a disciplinary hearing earlier this evening.
After the game, Ma'afu tweeted Youngs: "The jersey can overcome us in the heat of battle. I owe you a pint. #respect," in response to Youngs wishing him well in the final (view that here).
Via teleconference Ma'afu pleaded guilty to a charge of striking an opponent contrary to Law 10.4.A.
He has been given a one week ban and ordered to pay £500 towards hearings costs. He is free to play again on May 26th, so will be available for the May 31st Aviva Premiership Final.
The tweets between the two players have gone viral this week, with thousands of retweets and plenty of news stories on various sports websites. View the tweets (and a great gif!) on page two of this post, and remember, what happens on the field stays on the field.
Posted at 7:11 pm | 48 comments
It was a fascinating weekend of Super Rugby with some controversial incidents, amidst epic performances. We'll have more on some of those soon hopefully but for now here is a very quick rundown of some of the best moments from the weekend, with Rugby HQ's Shortball.
View all Shortball and Plays of the Week (and month) clips in the our archive
Posted at 12:18 pm | 24 comments
Monday, May 19, 2014
Northampton Saints and Saracens will contest the Aviva Premiership Final on May 31st following wins over Leicester Tigers and Harlequins respectively. If you missed the games, here are quick official highlight wraps from both semi finals.
Both games included a fair bit of controversy, with Salesi Ma'afu being red carded for punching Tom Youngs, while Saracens winger Chris Ashton has been spoken to by the RFU regarding an incident in the first half. He allegedly shouted 'push it' as Nick Evans was taking a conversion.
Saints beat Tigers 21-20 in a hard-fought game at Franklin's Gardens. Coach Jim Mallinder has since spoken of the team's need to not dwell on the win, but follow up with a significant triumph.
"To go down to 14 men and still come out of it was testament to the massive character of the side," he said. "A significant moment will be when we win a big competition. We've been in a Heineken Cup final, we were in the Premiership final last season. It will be significant when we win a big one."
Ma'afu will face a disciplinary hearing for the red card he received after decking Youngs, while Tigers flyhalf Owen Williams has been charged with "acts contrary to good sportsmanship/making contact with the eye(s) or eye area of Luther Burrell". Their hearings are on Tuesday evening.
Saracens meanwhile are eyeing a historic 'double' as they are in both the Premiership final and the Heineken Cup final. They beat Harlequins 31-17 on Saturday (highlights on page two).
"The squad is really confident at the moment and they front up every single week," said coach Mark McCall, who's team first needs to take on Toulon in Cardiff this coming Saturday (May 24th).
Saracens vs Harlequins Highlights (on page two)
Posted at 10:00 am | 26 comments
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Glasgow Warriors and Leinster will meet in the RaboDirect PRO12 final on 31 May after victories over Munster and Ulster respectively. It was Semi Final weekend in the Premiership and Top 14 too, so we have highlights and a wrap of both games here.
The PRO12 Final will be held in Dublin, at the RDS, for the third consecutive year as Leinster finished the season top of the table on 82 points, three ahead of the Warriors on 79.
It was the Scottish side that reached the final first, upsetting Munster 16-15 in a historic clash at Scotstoun on Friday night. They did so without star players Stuart Hogg and Duncan Weir.
Coach Gregor Townsend praised the discipline of his side after the famous win in front of 10 000 fans. "That is the proudest moment of my coaching career, without a doubt. To be involved in a game like that, when the players put everything into it but also show skill and talent, is fantastic.
"When our lead was cut to just a point, we could easily have given away a penalty just for going offside and cost us the match. But the effort in defence to keep them out was superb," he added.
On Saturday night Leinster had to dig deep to overcome an inspired Ulster outfit who were in search of a title to send off retiring Johan Muller and Paddy Wallace, as well as Tom Court and John Afoa, who are also leaving Ravenhill.
It was a low scoring, tense battle with the only try of the match being scored in the 72nd minute. It proved to be the decisive blow as replacement Ian Madigan went over to give the hosts the lead.
"We gave ourselves a mountain to climb I suppose, I think it was 9-0 at one stage and that's never easy, especially against a team like Ulster," said Jamie Heaslip. "We crept out the win in the end."
Highlights of Leinster vs Ulster (page two)
Posted at 2:58 pm | 12 comments
Friday, May 16, 2014
Munster lock Donncha O'Callaghan is known to be quite a character so it's no surprise that when asked to answer some random questions recently, he delivered. He accepted an award on the night too, and as you can see here, has quite a way with words.
The Lions tourist in 2005 and 2009 first made an appearance on RD many years back after he attempted to play rugby without any shorts on. In a 2006 match against the Cardiff Blues they were ripped off, so rather than waste time trying to replace them, he simply joined the lineout.
"You can't play like this," said the none too amused French referee, forcing him to get a new pair.
O'Callaghan has played rugby for Munster for an incredible 16 seasons. Now 35-years-old, he will start off the bench in tonight's crunch RaboDirect PRO12 semi final against Glasgow Warriors.
With 94 caps for his country and other locks looking like they might prevent him from reaching the cherished 100 caps, he has said that he hopes if it happens, it's under the right circumstances.
"It's competitive as ever," he told Thescore.ie in a frank chat earlier this week.
"If you're in the team, you want to be there on merit. The more competitive it is for positions, the better it is for everybody. You know that if a guy is picked ahead of you, and is a quality fella, that he has to produce the goods. That can only be good for the team," he added.
In this entertaining chat O'Callaghan speaks about those team mates and things like who the best dancer is, who would be last man standing on a night out, and who has the worst dress sense. "A lot of our younger guys are starting to dress like One Direction, and I don't know where that's at."
O'Callaghan was attending the Hibernia College IRUPA Rugby Players' Awards 2014, where he was presented with the Boardmatch Contribution to Society award
Posted at 3:24 pm | 20 comments
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Last week the Rugby HQ guys came up with this great compilation that has since racked up thousands of views. The preview image might have a little something to do with that, but the selection is top notch as always and features some absolute howlers.
[Spoiler Alert: Below is a run down of the five clips that are featured, in order.]
Amongst the bloopers is a clip that we posted many years back, featuring former Springbok prop CJ van der Line and his attempt at being a scrumhalf. As you can see, it didn't go well.
At number two it's the Brumbies' Matt Toomua and his entry for what was possibly the most forward pass ever. It happened against the Force in last year's Super Rugby, and while that kind of mistake can probably be seen occasionally in grassroots rugby, this was a shocker. Funny though.
Brent Ward's pass that slipped out the hands in the NPC was fairly amusing too, but Six Nations fans will never forget the mayhem that was flanker Mauro Bergamasco's outing at scrumhalf.
The Nick Mallett experiment went horribly wrong against England as poor Mauro struggled, and was yanked from the game at halftime. Mallet explained: "I thought about substituting Mauro after 25 minutes but I didn't want to take him off like that in front of the eyes of 80,000 people."
That worked out well. About as well as Willie Ripia's attempt to swing it wide for the Hurricanes.
Cory Jane is one of the most talented rugby players on the planet, but that face seems to be a magnet for the ball. Rugby HQ host Sean Maloney summed it up best: "In a world XV for balls to the face, Cory Jane is your captain and coach."
There's some good stuff related to these players in the Related Posts below the video, but are there any other moments that you think could have been contenders for worst pass ever?
Posted at 4:03 pm | 8 comments