Thursday, March 19, 2015
Wales' win against Ireland on Saturday coupled with England's victory over Scotland means that this years six nations will be a three-way race between those two and Ireland.
All the teams are deadlocked on 6 points with three wins each, however England’s superior points difference of 37 see’s them on top of the pile against Ireland’s 33 and Wales’ 12.
Italy vs Wales
Wales kick off the weekend round of matches with their game against Italy. Their recent form has sure made up for their poor start to the campaign with wins against Ireland, France and Scotland giving them an outside shot at the title.
Wales go to Italy knowing that they must win, and win comfortably if their outside shot of the title is to be realized, this will be no mean feat with Italy showing that they poses a real threat after their win against Scotland. However this could all be scarpered should either Ireland or England win their respective games.
Scotland vs Ireland
Whilst Ireland’s chances of a Grand Slam may have vanished following their defeat to Wales, they still possess a strong chance of winning the Six Nations. They face a Scottish side that is yet to win a game this tournament though their own confidence might be wounded following their recent loss.
Ireland have the benefit of knowing how Wales did but with England kicking off after them will be in the tricky situation of not knowing whether to push for points or just stick with the win.
England vs France
England’s superior points difference puts them as slight favourites to lift the trophy and they need nothing less than a win against France to seal the championship. Along with the win they must be sure to secure a sufficient margin should Ireland win and Wales put the hurt on Italy.
They have the benefit of knowing what is needed due to their later kick off but a resurgent French side will be no pushovers.
France in fact actually maintain a very distant shot at the title should both Wales and Ireland lose and they defeat England at Twickenham, they are currently 4th on a points difference of 22. Whilst nothing is impossible the French will need more than a hint of luck to win this years Six Nations.
It promises to be one of the most exciting last rounds of rugby this Saturday and one that is sure to have a few twists and turns as the day goes on!
Who do you think is the favourite to take the title?
Johnson-Fisher took the rugby world by storm when footage emerged of him playing for Oakham U-15's in the NatWest Schools Cup semi-final, a semi-final that they would win mostly thanks to the outstanding performance of this young man.
The victory sees Oakham reach the final for the first time in 10 years, and the subsequent highlights video of Johnson-Fisher's exploits have resulted in a whopping 1.4 million views (at time of writing), with it being featured and shared not only in rugby circles, but also American Football.
The 15 year-old scored four tries in the game, pretty much single-handedly winning it for his team.
His highlights reel shows the impressive combination of pace, power and agility as the young outside-centre was pretty much untouchable throughout the game, effortlessly floating between the flailing Bishop Wordworth's tackles.
His pace and agility should come as no surprise however as Johnson-Fisher is also a decorated sprinter, winning the English Schools Championship junior boys 100 metre title with an impressive time of 10.91 seconds.
This highlights reel has shown that this young man has a bright future ahead of him and if he keeps developing as he is, he will be terrorizing defences wherever he goes.
Johnson-Fischer can seek inspiration from Lewis Moody, another former Oakham pupil, who famously went on to win a Rugby World Cup. The school is probably the only thing they have in common however, with the 15-year-old's running style more akin to someone like Rupeni Caucau.
As if the tries aren't enjoyable enough, that big bump at 37 seconds is epic.
credit: England Rugby
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
A few days back you may have seen the impressive drop goal from Germany's hooker, which everyone seemed to really appreciate. Well this time around it's Sale Sharks prop Vadim Cobilas who shows how not to do it if you're a front rower.
In an Aviva Premiership clash between Bath and Sale Sharks a week or so ago, the visiting side's prop, Moldovan Vadim Cobilas, allowed his quick thinking to get the better of him when he realised his team were playing with a penalty advantage.
A poor pass rolled past Danny Cipriani and the eager front rower scooped it up 15 metres in front of the posts, dropped the ball to his right foot and swung for glory. Unfortunately the resulting attempt was far from glorious, as it rolled toward the 5-metre line, having failed to rise above knee height.
Unsurprisingly referee Wayne Barnes decided that Sale had not gained an advantage from the drop goal and awarded the penalty, which Cipriani duly kicked into touch.
Despite ripples of laughter around the stadium and in the commentary box, Cobilas appeared unphased as he quickly took his position in the resulting line-out.
The effort reminds us of the infamous Matt Dunning drop goal in the 2003 Super Rugby season which, despite being successful, hampered the Waratahs chances of a semi-final spot. Dunning's intention, or expectation, was to miss so that the referee would bring play back for a penalty.
Unfortunately for him it sailed through the uprights, going down as arguably one of the biggest gaffs ever on a rugby field, and certainly an unforgettable, hilarious rugby blooper.
Successful or not, front row drop goals are a thing of beauty, so we salute Vadim for trying.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Roman history is awash with great leaders. Constantine, Caesar, Agrippa… and now Parisse. What separates a good team from the great? When do players become legends? This fascinating video gives us an insight into one of world rugby’s most talented players, Italian captain Sergio Parisse, and the work he puts in behind the scenes.
A stand-out performer in the Italian team since his debut as an 18 year old back in 2002, Sergio Parisse has been instrumental in the Azzurri’s progression to the top tier of International Rugby.
With 112 caps, Parisse is Italy's longest serving player, passing previous skipper Marco Bortolami. He also holds the less popular Italian record of most Wooden Spoons.
The former Stade Francais skipper has not had the easiest times on the world stage, with just 31 wins, 80 losses and a single draw, the numbers do not do a player of his stature justice. A man of few words off the field (and sometimes the wrong ones on it), he leads by example.
Never one to shy away from responsibility, when push comes to shove, Parisse is the first to put a hand up and put Italy on the front foot. One of the first of the ‘new breed’ of back row, as he explains in the video, the game is bigger than any one position.
Whether it means taking the ball into contact, calling first receiver, or putting boot to ball, it is vital to make the right decision and have the skills to do it successfully. The extra hours put in practising the basics as well as the playbook really do make the difference.
Boosted by the confidence of a win over Scotland, and two wins over France in the last 4 years, things are looking up for Parisse's troops. Unfortunately with injuries in the warm-up and a poor kicking display, Sunday's game didn't quite go to plan, with a heavy defeat to Philippe Saint-André's men.
Win or lose though, 'Serg' remains a hero to many and if nothing else, the images of full time at Murrayfield will live on for many years to come. This video from Gillette World Sport takes us into the mindset of one of the most respected players in rugby today.
The Wallabies have dropped down to sixth place on the World Rugby Rankings as Wales moved up above them with victory over Ireland in Cardiff. It was a busy weekend of international rugby, with the Six Nations, European Nations Cup, Women's Six Nations and Under-20 Six Nations all taking place.
Australia, who haven't played a game since November, have dropped to their lowest ever position since the (IRB) World Rugby Rankings were introduced in October 2003.
Ireland remain at third, the highest of the northern hemisphere nations, despite the loss.
England's win over Scotland had no impact on their rating due to Scotland being place well below them, at number 10, on the rankings. There was also a less than ten points margin, which comes into effect. France beat Italy 29-0 in Rome and have improved their rating by over a point, but remain in seventh place, while Italy stay in 14th.
European Nations Cup
The four matches that took place over the weekend did have some impact, with Belgium the biggest movers of the last seven days after their 17-14 win over Division 1B leaders Moldova. That victory lifts Belgium two places to 27th – above Zimbabwe and Hong Kong – and leaves Moldova in 30th, albeit much closer now to Kenya below.
The only other positional change came as a result of Portugal’s 19-8 loss to Spain on home soil. The Portuguese have slipped one place to 23rd with RWC 2015 bound Namibia the beneficiaries. Spain remain 21st after the Division 1A victory in the Iberian derby.
Georgia ran out 33-0 winners over 19th-ranked Russia in Tbilisi, but only improved their rating by less than a tenth. They are still closer to Italy above them in 14th than they began the weekend after the Azzurri lost to France.
Romania had to dig deep to edge Germany 17-12 in Heidelberg, a result which resulted in a gain of less than a tenth to leave them stationary in 17th.
Below, a quick recap of results and rankings from the weekend of international rugby
Monday, March 16, 2015
Wales kept their Championship hopes alive as they beat Ireland in a Six Nations classic. The game was a close fought and extremely physical affair with the home side putting in a masterclass in defence, but early on it was the Welsh attack that shocked Ireland the most.
Within the first five minutes some quick ball was accompanied by a skilful pass from Dan Biggar and just like that, Wales were on attack and Jonathan Davies found Johnny Sexton in front of him.
With eyes locked on the Irish ten, the Welsh powerhouse, whilst barely breaking stride, proceeded to plant a solid palm into Sexton's ribcage, sending him airborne.
To Sexton's credit he was straight back to his feet immediately, back in the defensive line, but even if his body absorbed the blow, there's no denying it must have dented the pride of such a ferociously competitive player.
As we learned recently with the All It Takes short film, Sexton relentlessly strives to be the best.
Davies' hand off is reminiscent of a Sonny Bill Williams fend whilst playing for Canterbury a few years back, but was perhaps not quite as dramatic as Dean Mumm's monster hand-off on Marcel Coetzee, both of which can be seen on page two of this post.
We've also added a few more must see fends and hand-offs in the Related Posts below this
Catch up on what went down in Round 5 of Super Rugby this past weekend, as the Shortball takes us through some try scoring highlights, then looks at the best of the bunch, shows us some of the biggest tackles of the round, and includes a wrestling move that probably shouldn't be repeated.
In fact Liam Gill has since been banned for two weeks for his flip, suplex clean out on Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White. It's amusing to see, but he was yellow carded and has since been told that even though White landed safely, it's considered illegal lifting. More on that soon.
In Australia, catch Rugby HQ on Thursday, 8.30pm AEDT on Fox Sports 2