Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Powerhouse winger Alesana Tuilagi has made another crunching hit, this time against Bath and poor Ollie Devoto. The Samoan powerhouse has been playing his rugby in Japan but recently returned to the Aviva Premiership, keen to make his mark.
Alesana, sometimes referred to as Alex, spent two years with the NTT Shining Arcs in Japan, but returned to the Premiership recently, albeit after a delay with visa issues.
He was seen on BT Sport's Clare Balding Show a few weeks back, alongside brother Manu and fellow pacific islander brothers, Billy and Mako Vunipola, as they spoke about life back home. It was a great interview and we posted a few clips from it, so take a look when you get a chance.
The 33-year-old joins other brother Anitelea (Andy) Tuilagi at Newcastle, hoping to pick up on the form that made him such a star at the Leicester Tigers. He recently spoke of the rugby education he had in Japan, where the game is fast, and the diet is very different.
"I was surprised when I went there. I lived 15 minutes from Tokyo and it's a crazy place," he said ahead of joining Newcastle and starting the Premiership season.
"There's no diet there, the Japanese eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner! The rugby is different, the way they train is different; it was a different experience. They don't have home or away games, they select stadiums around the country and you play everywhere.
"You play one game down south, another up north, but most are in Tokyo. The standard there is good; they play a fast game and there are good players going there so the rugby is developing but it is a different environment.
"The rugby is going very well but the rules are different; they only allow two foreigners on the pitch and two on the bench, so I was playing for 40 minutes, then coming off," he added.
This isn't the biggest hit he's ever made (view a whole heap of those in the Related Posts below this), but he is somewhat of a rugby legend, especially in the Premiership, so it's great to see him throwing his considerable weight around again.
credit: premiership rugby
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
IG, a global leader in online trading, have just launched an incredible competition offering one lucky winner and their teammates an unbeatable opportunity to win the ultimate rugby tour. View the amusing video below, as well as all entry info.
The winner and their teammates will start the incredible experience off with a training day hosted by Conor O’Shea and his first team squad before being flown half way around the world to play against a Harlequins affiliate club and experience rugby team culture in the southern hemisphere.
Entrants will be asked to say where in the world they would like to go and why they think their team deserves to win, with the winning entry being selected by Conor O’Shea, former Harlequins Captain Will Skinner and members of the Harlequins squad.
To enter the competition, visit: www.quins.co.uk/IGLiveEveryDream
The funny video below features Harlequins winger Ugo Monye interviewing teammates Nick Easter and Chris Robshaw about life, rugby and touring.
The International Rugby Board (IRB) have officially rebranded and changed names to World Rugby, as announced earlier today at the World Rugby Conference and Exhibition 2014 in London. The new look includes a new logo and website.
While the IRB has become synonymous with fans around the planet as the organistation that runs the sport, they felt that the name wasn't fully encompassing of their mission statement to grow the game globally, so have changed it to World Rugby, and brought out a new look and feel.
At the heart of the brand is a distinctive positioning, expressed visually through a modernised and progressive logo that embodies World Rugby’s mission statement to grow the game globally, retaining a link to the organisation’s heritage through its blue and green colour scheme.
Design and branding experts FutureBrand came up with the logo, which aims to help deliver the mission to build a stronger connection with fans, players and commercial partners, ultimately engaging new audiences worldwide. Chief Executive officer Brett Gosper explaned:
"In an incredibly competitive global entertainment and sporting marketplace, Rugby must continue to appeal to those who know and love the sport and its heritage, while attracting, engaging and inspiring those who have no connection with the sport across multiple cultures and languages around the world.
"Supported by a new name, a distinctive, optimistic and progressive new brand, and clear character-building values World Rugby collectively has the ingredients and tools to do just that. We want everyone to feel connected with the sport and Rugby’s ongoing success story," Gosper said.
"Our new brand certainly stands out and enables us to promote our consumer-facing properties in a way that they will be more appealing and impactful to the sport’s growing global fan base."
Regarding the Rugby World Cup, we are waiting for clarification but it appears that the logo will be untouched. "The rebrand will have no impact on Rugby World Cup 2015 branding or positioning, which will remain as it is with its iconic logo throughout the current event cycle," said a statement.
The new visual identity will make it's debut on official match jerseys this weekend.
Below is a video that was launched today along with the new logo and identity.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Ireland have moved up to third in the IRB Rankings afting beating Georgia, and thanks to Australia and England losing to France and South Africa respectively. Coach Joe Schmidt says it's nothing but a distraction though, and not something that should be focused on by the players.
Third is Ireland's highest ever position, having last occupied it in November of 2006.
They actually didn't improve their points rating after beating Georgia 49-7, but the losses to Australia and England meant that those two sides dropped down. Beating South Africa a week earlier would have also helped their cause though.
"I don't think we can win anything by saying we're third in the world," said coach Joe Schmidt.
"I think it's fantastic, and a feather in the cap of the lads who have rolled their sleeves up for the last 12 months, but I can't say it's something we'd be talking about or even aware of."
The IRB break down the latest rankings update:
The Irish now have a cushion of 0.62 points from Australia, who avoided a two-place fall to fifth by the smallest of margins after a 29-26 loss to France in Paris with the Wallabies sitting just one hundredth of a point above England now.
South Africa’s 31-28 win at Twickenham has strengthened their position of second place – some five points clear of Ireland – and closed the gap to New Zealand by nearly one point, although the All Blacks still sit 3.77 points clear at the top.
New Zealand did not improve their rating on the back of a 24-16 win over eighth ranked Scotland at Murrayfield on a weekend which saw the world champions celebrate five years as the number one side in the rankings.
While England have fallen two places to fifth on the back of losses to South Africa and New Zealand this month and lost their mantle as the leading northern hemisphere nation to Ireland, they still sit 2.74 points above France.
Wales improved their rating slightly in seventh with the narrow 17-13 win over their Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool A opponents Fiji, a result which – in tandem with Tonga’s 40-12 win over the USA in Gloucester – sees the two Pacific Island nations swap places with the Ikale Tahi now 12th.
Argentina have climbed one place to ninth on the back of their 20-18 victory over Italy in Genoa on Friday. Los Pumas gained more points for that win and therefore climbed above Japan, who ran out 18-13 winners over 18th ranked Romania in Bucharest.
The only other positional change in the top 20 sees Russia climb one place to 19th – swapping places with Uruguay, the side who had ended their RWC 2015 dreams last month – following a 39-27 win over their Hong Kong, one which sees their hosts fall two to 27th.
There were three European Nations Cup 2016 matches over the weekend, although none resulted in any positional changes. Moldova and Belgium both improved their ratings after victories over Poland (48-25) and Ukraine (25-10) in Division 1B but remain in 28th and 30th respectively.
The final ENC match saw Latvia overcome Cyprus 39-20 in Riga in Division 2B, but that had no impact on the ratings as Cyprus are not an IRB Member Union. The win was significant, though, in that it was Cyprus’ first defeat since September 2008 and ended their run of 23 consecutive victories.
For a full rankings explanation, visit the rankings page on the IRB website
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has lauded his team's 31-28 victory over England in the wet weather of Twickenham on Saturday. The much needed win stretches their unbeaten run against England to 12 matches, dating back to November 2006.
The fifth consecutive win at Twickenham holds the Springboks in good stead heading into a Rugby World Cup year whereby the tournament will be held in the UK. While their loss against Ireland a week prior was dissappointing, Meyer was proud of the three-try effort in the rain.
"I'm very proud of the guys – it was a clinical performance and we played tactically very well in the conditions," said Meyer. "Even though it was wet and the ball was quite slippery, we still scored three tries, while there could've been a fourth.
Jan Serfontein scored with an intercept, then just after halftime Cobus Reinach crossed after a brilliant bit of play by Pat Lambie and fullback Willie Le Roux. Man of the Match Schalk Burger also crossed for a well constructed try off the back of a maul, despite being down to just 7 forwards.
"I also thought the players did very well to keep their composure and take back the lead after England scored two quick tries early in the second half," Meyer said of England's excellent comeback, which brought them level at 20-20 after two quick, powerfully taken tries.
Burger, whose comeback from illness and injury culminated in a start for the Springboks, has now been released from the squad and flew back to South Africa yesterday.
"A decision was taken prior to the tour that Schalk will be released from the squad on Sunday," said Meyer ahead of the upcoming Test against Italy in Padova. "We still have good depth at loose forward and can also look at bringing in reinforcements if necessary."
He added that the challenge now is to build on this performance and keep lifting the intensity.
England coach Stuart Lancaster said that he is well aware of England's five successive defeats.
"I think as a coach you accept that if you win the players get the credit and, if you lose, the coach gets the flak," he said. "It's been a tough run against two world-class teams, but we need a win."
credit: England Rugby
Samoa bounced back from defeat to Italy to beat Canada 23-13 in Vannes, France on Friday night. Canada couldn't take advantage of all their chances, while Samoa snapped up two tries to Anthony Perenise and Winston Stanley. Conor Trainor scored Canada's only try.
Samoa had some off-field issues in the lead up to this match, as they threatened to boycott next week's match against England because they were unhappy with their management style and pay, but that was averted due to the intervention of the IRB.
The win should lift the spirits, and hopefully next weekend we'll see a strong Samoan side turning out at Twickenham to face England who will still be smarting from their loss to South Africa.
Credit to Rugby Canada Communications for the highlights. They show a few more of their own team's chances than Samoa's, but they do show all the tries and a late chance in the corner.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Scotland were left ruing the missed opportunity to spring the biggest upset of the year as New Zealand held things together to survive a scare and win 24-16 at Murrayfield on Saturday. A late try from lock Jeremy Thrush put the home side out of contention.
It wasn't the best All Blacks XV on show but Scotland, wearing their alternate strip, took it to the world champions and were in the game right up until the last five minutes, when the experience and power of the visitors took effect.
Scotland had never beaten New Zealand, so they'll feel that this was one that got away, while the All Blacks might reconsider fielding such an experimental side in future.
Scotland's Kiwi coach Vern Cotter was pleased with the character his side showed.
"If you look at our defence, I thought our defence was excellent. A few players really put their hands up and led the team, everybody contributed. I think we can get confidence in the way we vary our play. We can attack, we can kick, we can use short side, we can use space in the back...
"One thing you can be sure of, is that there's character in there. And that's very important," he said.
Steve Hansen was impressed, saying that Scotland could be a Six Nations dark horse.
"I think Scotland are a very good side on the way up. I really do mean that sincerely. I think by the time the Six Nations comes around they will be right in it," Hansen said.
Scotland suffered a number of injuries in the physical clash, with some players completing the game but requiring further care from the medical team.
They include, Alasdair Dickinson (lower leg), Alex Dunbar (ankle), Adam Ashe, Blair Cowan (both neck strain), Richie Gray, Ross Ford (both shoulder), Tommy Seymour, Greig Laidlaw (both hand) and Euan Murray (groin). Mark Bennett (hamstring) will return to his club.
View extended match highlights below, including post match interviews with Stuart Hogg and intercept try scorer Tommy Seymour. On the next page you can view the Scottish press conference with coach Cotter and skipper Greig Laidlaw.
Credit: Scottish Rugby TV