Friday, September 20, 2013
It's been a tough week for referees, and although Andrew Small didn't make any horrific decisions in the Harlequins vs Northampton Saints Aviva Premiership game, he did receive a smack in the face for getting too close to the action.
In a soaking wet game at the Stoop, Saints claimed a 13-6 victory after a try to James Wilson in the second half, and two penalties and a conversion by Stephen Myler sealed the win.
The conditions were difficult to contend with and at one stage Lee Dickson had a box-kick charged down by Tom Guest, with the ball ricocheting off his hands directly into the face of referee Small.
We've seen some great Falcons in recent times, with Wayne Barnes also taking a shot in the face not too long ago, but this was one of the more awkward ones, providing some light relief for the 11498 fans that turned out to brave the miserable conditions.
Refree Small took it well, eventually managing a wry smile despite being initially quite shaken.
Extra: View the Top 5 Falcons of All Time
Posted at 6:36 pm | 5 comments
Following the controversial dismissal of Bismarck Du Plessis in the Rugby Championship, and the admission by the IRB that referee Romain Poite got it wrong, the Rugby HQ guys looked into the archives to find similar mind-boggling referee calls.
It goes without saying that without referees, we wouldn't have the great game. Rugby is also one of the few high profile sports where we treat them with respect, and rarely question their judgement.
Having said that, with excellent TV broadcasts and analysis these days, we're able to scrutinise every call from the comfort of our La-Z-Boys, and occasionlaly, they do produce some shockers.
Technology is not only the reason we feel we're able to accurately criticise, but it's also one of the things that is now available to them, so there really shouldn't be any big calls gone wrong.
Poite's big call came a week after the decision was made to allow referees in the Rugby Championship to ask for replays of foul play to be put up on the big screen in the stadium.
That is a new innovation though and in recent years, while there was still the ability to speak to the touch judges and use common sense, we've seen a few howlers.
Sean Maloney compiled a list of some of the worst in recent memory with their latest Top 5 list.
View our Top 5 archive, and all the incidents mentioned in the video in the Related Posts below
Posted at 1:32 pm | 33 comments
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Earlier this week Western Province flank Michael Rhodes was suspended for one match following a disciplinary hearing for the straight red card he received during the Currie Cup Round 6 match against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.
On the same weekend that Gloucester's Nick Wood received his marching orders for a stamp on Saracens' Jacques Burger just 73 seconds into their Aviva Premiership match, Rhodes stamped on Blue Bulls captain Jono Ross after a tackle and he too received his marching orders.
Unlike with Wayne Barnes, referee Marius Jonker didn't see it so referred to the TMO to check for foul play after touch judge Rasta Rashivenga was on hand to alert him to the offence. Jonker watched it on the big screen and appeared to make the call himself.
Jonker explained to Western Province captain De Kock Steenkamp that he could not rule on intent, but because it was clearly a foot in the face, it's a red card.
As with Nick Wood and Jacques Burger, Rhodes went over to apologise on his way off the field.
Rhodes initially seemed to be annoyed that Ross was holding onto him after the whistle had blown, but Tuesday's SARU judicial committee said there was no intent to stamp on the side of Ross' face.
Judicial officer Peter Ingwersen ruled that Rhodes was being pulled down in the tackle at the time and tried to regain his balance. He did however rule that there was sufficient negligence to find Rhodes guilty of transgressing Law 10.4(b), a player may not stamp on an opponent.
It was deemed a lower-entry offence, and combined with Rhodes' respectable disciplinary record, resulted in him being suspended for just one match. Rhodes was however suspended for six weeks in 2011 for a dangerous headlock on Siale Piutau.
Perhaps he is lucky that Waylon Murray didn't take offence to where he grabbed him for support.
Posted at 7:24 pm | 15 comments
The future of European club rugby competitions is unknown at this stage. The Heineken Cup is in serious doubt, but where to from here? Conor O'Shea, Shane Horgan and Donal Lenihan discuss the crisis and look at ways that is can be resolved.
Negotiations and discussions will take place in Dublin on 23 October, with all signatories of the current European club rugby Accord to attend. ERC will facilitate the process across a range of points of difference, such as the share of central revenues, qualification criteria and format.
The involvement of all parties in ERC's make-up is as vital now as it was in the early days of the organisation. The only forum which can provide the platform for all-party negotiation under the Accord is the ERC forum and any attempt to ambush or denigrate the discussions is clearly not in the best interest of these great European tournaments.
"More than one year has passed since notice was served on the Accord and no proposal to date has received sufficient support to provide the basis for progress," said ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath.
"This should not be seen as insurmountable, as agreement on European tournaments has always required compromise with an acceptance that no party will secure everything on their wish-list.
"The only way we ever made progress in previous Accord negotiations was by serious engagement on the part of all ERC decision-makers. The same positive approach is required now and it is hoped that all signatories to the Accord will dedicate their energy to the renewed process."
The Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup tournaments are owned and run by ERC, a company set up by the six main European unions which is recognised by the IRB as the organiser of the pre-eminent cross-border club competitions in northern hemisphere rugby.
Posted at 11:10 am | 25 comments
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Rory Kockott was key to another Castres victory over Toulon as the champions won 22-15 at the Stade Pierre-Antoine. Kockott kicked seventeen points, including this huge dropgoal after a penalty kick hit the post. He is eligible for France next year.
The former Sharks and Lions number nine was key to Castres winning the Top 14 last season, and while he at one stage considered moving on to other larger clubs, including the likes of Toulouse, he is now firmly committed to the cause and aiming for another title shot.
He out-booted Jonny Wilkinson at the weekend with four penalties, a drop goal and a conversion.
If all goes well, 27-year-old Kockott, who was top points scorer in the Top 14 last season, could achieve higher honours in the not too distant future. Earlier this year he spoke of his desire to play Test rugby, preferably for his native South Africa but would be equally pleased to play for France.
"I definitely want to play Test rugby one day, whether it's for South Africa or my adopted nation. I haven't closed the door on my Springbok aspirations, even though I'm based in France," he told SA Rugby Magazine earlier this year.
Making his Super Rugby debut agead 19, Kockott spent five seasons with the Sharks in Durban, often as understudy to Springbok Ruan Pienaar, but temperament and attitude seemed to hold him back. He spent a season at the Lions before opting for a change of scenery.
Now at Castres and proving to be one of the best players in league, Kockott has fully embraced life in France, but still has ambitions to fulfill the potential he believes he has.
"I'm a strong believer that if I'm playing the best rugby of my career, I'll catch the attention of the selectors back home. But if that doesn't work out, I hope to do well enough to get into the French team. I'm still very young and I'd like to have an international career.
"Here (in France) or in my country. I have three or four years left to achieve that."
Behind Fourie Du Preez, Ruan Pienaar, Jano Vermaak, Piet Van Zyl and Francois Hougaard, he might struggle to get a look in, so Les Bleus might beckon.
"I don't see anything wrong with it (playing for France). If you're not getting any opportunities in your home nation, you should get the chance to play for another country if you're good enough.
"There's a lot of competition for the French No 9 jersey, but if I keep working hard, I can get there."
The video below shows his initial missed attempt at a long range penalty, and then the booming dropgoal that followed after receiving the ball back from a Delon Armitage clearance kick.
Posted at 8:32 am | 33 comments
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Munster beat Zebre 43-21 in their Pro12 match in Parma on Friday, coming from behind after trailing 18-9 at halftime. Both sides scored some good tries, and there was also this cracking hit, that could be heard from far, to welcome the visitors.
Zebre started well and just five minutes into the clash gave the crowd something to cheer about with this solid tackle on Johne Murphy by Italy lock Quintin Geldenhuys.
Murphy had passed the ball so the timing might have looked slightly off, but the tackler was committed and according to the referee, it wasn't a late shot. It was a bit of a mismatch, but we all love seeing a big tackle and this one could be heard nicely through the refs mic.
Zebre scored well taken tries through Luciano Orquera and Andrea De Marchi, but Munster came back in the second half and scored through Paddy Butler, Denis Hurley, CJ Stander and Ian Keatley.
It will have been a tough pill to swallow for the home side, who were looking for their first win of the competition, and looked well placed at the break before Munster kicked into gear and pulled away.
View full match highlights on page two, and a quick clip of the cracking hit below
Posted at 5:43 pm | 7 comments
British & Irish Lions and England centre Manu Tuilagi has apologised for making 'bunny ears' behind the back of David Cameron on Monday. The triumphant Lions squad were hosted by the Prime Minister to celebrate their 2-1 series victory in Australia.
As the squad asembled for a group photograph, Tuilagi ended up near Mr Cameron, and couldn't help himself. He later apologised for the gesture on Twitter, saying he was just messing around.
Tuilagi, who was described on Sky News this morning as 'not having a filter', was famously selected on the bench ahead of Brian O'Driscoll in the final, and deciding Test of the series.
Former England scrumhalf Matt Dawson wasn't impressed with Tuilagi. "My view on Tuilagi/PM. I'm utterly embarrassed. When will some learn, there's a time and a place," he Tweeted.
The powerful Samoan is still just 22-years-old, perhaps hard to believe after all he has already achieved for Leicester Tigers, England and now the Lions.
Earlier Cameron had praised the work that the Lions have done for the growth of the game in both the UK and Ireland, and said that his son just started playing tag rugby, mainly due to their success.
"It's a huge honour. My son, just because of you guys, has just started tag rugby. He will be so excited about this jersey," he said after being presented with a number ten Lions jersey.
He also took a bit of a swing at Rugby League, saying "I want to see many more people playing Rugby... even Rugby League if they have to."
It was the first time the squad had been together since arriving back in July.
Posted at 12:47 pm | 28 comments