Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Toulon second rower Jocelino Suta may consider himself lucky not to have seen a card for his wrestling inspired stranglehold on Leinster hooker, Richardt Strauss, in the eventful European Champions Cup semi-final on Sunday. Many people have voiced their displeasure with the event, so you can watch the incredible footage here and decide for yourself.
The Leinster front-rower immediately begins to protest as soon as Suta wraps his sizeable arm around his neck. Despite Strauss' clear discomfort, the Toulon replacement does not make any effort to loosen his grip and continues to apply the hold as they tumble to the ground.
Referee, Wayne Barnes, could be heard to demand Suta release Strauss' neck, but his requests go unheeded and Leinster are awarded the much welcomed penalty, which once converted brought them back to level terms in the early stages of extra-time.
Do you think Suta deserved more than a warning, or was Strauss playing up for the penalty?
Check out the Related Posts or head to our Dirty Play section for more of the same.
Remember George North's formidable show of strength and athleticism for the British & Irish Lions in 2013 when he picked up would be tackler, Israel Folau, and carried him over his shoulder for a few metres? Well check out this video of Marlie Packer from England emulating the Welsh winger at the Canada sevens over the weekend.
With scrappy ball near her own try line, Packer seized possession and wasn't going to be stopped from gaining yards. New Zealand's Tyla Nathan-Wong was treated to a fireman's carry back toward her own try line until teammate, Honey Hireme, arrived to assist and bring Packer to the ground.
England player, and World Cup winner, Kat Merchant voiced her support for the sevens team on Twitter, with particular appreciation for Packer's lift.
It must be said that Packer's efforts certainly ended a little better than North's, as the Lions' star unfortunately landed on his head when he decided to put Folau back down, and required some quick medical attention before continuing.
Although New Zealand went on to win the war on this occasion 24-14, there's no doubting that Packer won that particular battle for England.
View more incredible clips in our See it to Believe it archives
credit: World Rugby
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
France's Under 18 were recently crowned European champions with a convincing 57-0 victory over Georgia in Toulouse. Head coach Thierry Gatieneau's young side impressively saw off defending champions England 23-18 in the semi-final, before claiming the title.
While the national side has been a shadow of its former self at the highest level, the junior teams have performed admirably and have become a cause for optimism for a federation that is desperate for success of any kind.
Interestingly, the European victory comes 10 years after France claimed its last major youth title. In 2006, the Under 21s beat South Africa, again on French soil in Clermont Ferrand.
That winning side contained no less than 11 future French internationalists, including Lionel Beauxis, Sebastien Tillous-Borde, Maxime Medard, Damien Chouly and Thomas Domingo.
The final standings of each division in the 2015 European Championships
It's too early to gauge how many of this championship winning team will be running out to a packed Stade de France, but the French federation (FFR) speaks of a unique generation of players.
"This generation definitely has something special. After defeat to Italy at the start of the season, the title seemed a long way away.
"You have to believe that the work pays off because, thanks to a great collective effort and some individualism, we dominated the Georgians and conceded only one try in two matches."
World Rugby produced an insightful video following the French team as they prepared for their final match with Georgia in Toulouse. The video features interviews with Galieneau and Captain Alexandre Roumat as well as a short highlights reel of the final.
Galieneau also gained recognition for his touchline excitement during the match in this separate video. He demonstrates a passion and character which is seldom seen in most modern day rugby coaches.
Fiji women's sevens team produced one of the best scores you will see this year, definitely in the shortened down version of the game anyway, at the Canada 7s this past weekend.
Lavenia Tinai starts off the sequence of play with an outrageous dummy in her own 22.
She exchanges passes with Asinate Savu before a series of dummies, offloads and miss passes finds Pricilla Siati on the other wing who offloads in the tackle to allow Rusila Nagasau to score in the corner.
The Cup quarter final match was in the fourth round of the Women's Series in Langford, Canada, against New Zealand women, who went on to win 26-5.
The Harlem Globetrotters have nothing on these girls.
Monday, April 20, 2015
Sean Maloney and the team from Fox Sports are back with the Shortball highlights from Round 10 of Super Rugby. Sit back and enjoy the try of the week, which is another classic from Beauden Barrett, along with some bone-crunching hits and unusual happenings, as the guys at Rugby HQ have put together another great recap.
Barrett is certainly enjoying his rugby right now having also won try of the week in Round 9 - a score which many are tipping for try of the season - and his form surely won't go unnoticed by the All Black selection committee come September.
Also, get another look at referee Nick Briant's brilliant reaction to taking a powerful pass right on his nose, along with probably one of the worst bombed tries you'll ever see from Hurricanes flanker, Ardie Savea.
The Hurricanes' loss means they are only a single point clear in the New Zealand conference after the Chiefs dominant display over the Crusaders moves them up to fourth overall.
The Waratahs see themselves leapfrog into seventh spot as they try to salvage their season, and inflicting the first loss on the top ranked side will have done wonders for their confidence ahead of the next round.
The Cheetahs' week goes from bad to worse, as not only did they suffer a home defeat to the Reds by a single point, their flanker Heinrich Brussow has broken his arm and looks likely to miss the remainder of the Super Rugby season.
With more shock results this week and the teams fighting for places on the table, Round 11 is set to be full of exciting match-ups.
For more Shortball highlights head to our Plays of the Week section
credit: Fox Sports Australia
Arch poacher Bryan Habana broke the deadlock in extra time as Toulon got the better of Leinster 25-20 in a see-saw battle of a Champions Cup Semi Final on Sunday. They will face Clermont in the final, and are on track for what would be a sensational treble.
It was far from pretty, but the tension of a European Cup semi final provided a fascinating game of rugby, one that at one stage was very close to ending with penalties.
Toulon had to dig deep, but through the boot of Leigh Halfpenny, and a very well taken intercept try by Habana, the defending champions got home, and will contest their third straight European Cup final. It will be an occasion that requires far more precision and according to the South African star, discipline.
"If we want to be contenders to win the European title, we will have to go back to the drawing board. As a team, we are going to have to look really hard at ourselves after that performance," Habana said.
"Our discipline needs to be better and we can't afford to make as many errors. Mentally, I think we turned up and thought it was going to be a walkover, but the game ended up being on a knife-edge.
"We have the chance to make it a special end to the season for players like Carl Hayman, Ali Williams and Bakkies Botha, who are retiring. We've got 80 minutes - or maybe 100 - to try to put them into the history books as legends with a third successive European win."
For Leinster coach Matt O'Connor, it was a tough loss but he said he was proud of the effort.
"The overwhelming emotion is one of pride. The effort the lads put in was fantastic and we are obviously incredibly disappointed to come second. Habana's intercept was the turning point - he is world-class - but the positive for us was the effort. It was second to none.
"A lot of people had written us off coming into this game, but we will back ourselves to go anywhere and beat anybody."
Toulon face Clermont in the Champions Cup Final at Twickenham on May 2nd.
Highlights wrap below, with the option of highlights with commentary on the next page
Wesley Fofana scored the only try of a tight first European Champions Cup Semi Final on Saturday, as Clermont beat visiting Saracens 13-9 to set up an all-French final meeting with Toulon. They faced the same team in the 2013 final, but came up short on that occasion.
Stade Geoffrey-Guichard was packed with 42 000 fans and despite the close scoreline, they were not dissapointed, as a piece of brilliance from flyhalf Brock James set Fofana up for what proved to be a crucial score in the grand scheme of things.
Earlier bustling winger Napolioni Nalaga came within inches of crossing, but was bundled into touch by Chris Ashton, who on another day might have been dealt with for a no-arms tackle.
Clermont's Welsh centre Jonathan Davies has said that wins like that justify his move to France.
"Days like today are why I joined Clermont. As a rugby player you want to play in front of big crowds and you want to win things, and the reason I came to Clermont was to win things.
"That was a big thing for me: Clermont were traditionally always up there competing for championships. So the opportunity for me to come here and play with some great players and be involved with a great club, I'm very lucky.
"There's a lot of rugby to be played and I look forward to being involved in it and hopefully we can get some silverware, because this club deserves some silverware after some painful, close shaves. We need to make sure that we get championships for this great club," Davies said.
Fullback Nick Abendanon said that he feels it's time for Clermont to take the top spot.
"It is another final for Clermont and we honestly believe this is our year. We have worked so hard to get here that, hopefully, it will be our year. It has been a hell of a ride in the Champions Cup this season."
He too said that days like that were one of the reasons he moved to France.
"The noise in the stadium was deafening and you simply don't experience anything like that kind of atmosphere in English rugby."
The final against defending champions Toulon will be played at Twickenham on 2 May 2015.