Wednesday, June 26, 2013
The Wallabies suffered a string of injuries in the 23-21 first Test loss to the Lions, starting in the first minute as debutant Christian Leali'ifano was forced from the field. Amongst other losses, today it was confirmed that Pat McCabe will be out for the year.
The home side's gameplan was thrown into a spin within a minute of kickoff as playmaker Leali'ifano, who has been superb for the Brumbies in the last two seasons, took a heavy knock via Jonathan Davies. He left the field but this week has made a good recovery, following IRB concussion guidelines, and is expected to be available for selection.
The next to go was Berrick Barnes, who collided for Israel Folau after a little push from George North. Barnes has had a history of concussions and even stopped rugby for a while because of it.
Unlike Leali'ifano, Barnes will not be considered for Saturday, but may make a return for the third.
Replacement centre McCabe came on but later had to leave the field with a recurrence of a neck injury, and after consultation with specialists, has been ruled out of rugby for the rest of the year.
"The specialist advice is that a return is viable pending the full recovery and strengthening of the neck. Only time can do that, but we will be monitoring it closely throughout the healing process," said Wallabies doctor Warren McDonald.
"There is certainly no way that Pat will be returning to the game without a thorough assessment process to ensure he can have full confidence in the bone that has fractured."
He will be in a neck brace for a minimum of six weeks. "Could have been worse," McCabe said.
Digby Ioane, who had a warrant issued for his arrest earlier this week, is also out of the series after he suffered internal damage to his right shoulder and may require surgery.
Joe Tomane, a former school and rugby league mate of Israel Folau's, will likely make his second Test start on Saturday. He is expected to start on the wing, with Kurtley Beale starting at fullback.
For the Lions, Geoff Parling will probably replace Paul O'Connell, while Mako Vunipola may be given a starting spot due to Alex Corbisiero's ongoing calf struggles. Tommy Bowe is fit again after a hand injury, so he could replace Alex Cuthbert on the right wing.
UPDATE: Both teams have been announced. View them here
Below is a quick look at how three of the main Wallaby injuries occured in the first Test
Posted at 4:02 pm | 16 comments
One of the biggest talking points of the Springboks vs Samoa game on Saturday was the indecent ball handling by James So'oialo. The Samoan fullback appeared to get to grips with the South African hooker, but he was later cleared of any wrongdoing.
As mentioned previously, it was a turbulant game with a lot of big contact, but things crossed the line - or went below the belt - when So'oialo grabbed Adriaan Strauss in the nether regions.
Unsurprisingly, hooker Strauss reacted angrily, chasing after the Samoan fullback and calling him what looked like a 'Fokken poes' [ask the nearest South African for a translation].
After the TMO had a look and described the offence as grabbing a player in an 'indecent manner', we might have expected a card to be shown, but So'oialo was only penalised.
A citing and disciplinary followed though, and after being charged under Law 10.4(m), committing an act contrary to good sportsmanship, the citing was dismissed after Judge Jeff Blackett (RFU) decided that the contact was accidental.
"If I am to uphold this citing I must conclude that the Player has lied to me," said Judge Blackett.
"My assessment of the Player is that he is honest: he immediately accepted that he had grabbed an opponent’s testicles – he did not attempt to dispute that fact – and he said that there is no room in the game for insidious acts. Further there was no attempt to weaken the evidence given by Strauss who himself accepted that there was probably no malicious intention.
"In those circumstances I determine on the balance of probabilities that the Player did not intend to squeeze Strauss's testicles, nor were his actions reckless.
"In the dynamic situation of a ruck in which he was attempting to clear out an opponent he attempted to grab hold of his shorts and accidentally grabbed his testicles," he concluded.
It was difficult to see on camera at first, as the comical nature of the whole situation was compounded by the fact that players seemed to get in the way at exactly the right moment.
The reaction from Strauss explained a lot though, and the way the South African's handled it was quite funny to see, as they targeted a high ball on So'oialo directly afterwards.
Luckily for him, perhaps deliberately, he dropped it. He left the field a few minutes later.
Posted at 9:08 am | 19 comments
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
The latest HSBC Lions Weekly tour wrap-up features a look at all the build up to the first Test vs the Wallabies in Brisbane, as well as all the post match reaction from Lions legends Brian O'Driscoll, Jason Robinson, George Gregan and Joe Roff.
Earlier today the Lions beat the Melbourne Rebels 35-0 in their final midweek game, but now look ahead to the second Test, where they can claim the series with a victory. For now though, Lions Weekly looks back on the week leading up to that famous first Test win.
It features an exclusive interview with Brian O’Driscoll the morning after the first test, as well as views from former Wallaby winger Joe Roff, former two-time Lions tourist Jason Robinson and former Wallaby scrum-half George Gregan. Some of what is discussed includes:
- Brian O’Driscoll on James Horwill being cleared for alleged stamping, "He’s a lucky, lucky boy… We want to go out and play the best Aussie team that we can and he’s definitely part of that."
- George Gregan on Israel Folau: "Israel Folau looked like he’d been playing test rugby for the Wallabies forever"
- Jason Robinson on the challenge facing the Lions, "These guys have got the opportunity to make history, to come out here and win a test series. The Lions have a mammoth task next weekend"
- Joe Roff on the Wallaby team, "We have some wonderful playmakers"
Posted at 3:12 pm | 4 comments
South Africa beat Samoa 56-23 to win the Quad Series in Pretoria on Saturday. It was an action packed game with plenty to talk about, including some unfortunate dirty play, but a positive was the achievement of Bryan Habana, who scored his 50th Test try.
It was a first for a tournament like this, with double headers at each venue. Despite struggling a bit against Scotland, the Springboks went unbeaten, and with so many injuries and a slightly new look team, it was good preparation ahead of the Rugby Championship.
Winger Bryan Habana scored the first try of the game and later crossed for an incredible milestone, as he became just the sixth player to ever reach 50 Test tries.
"This is an achievement all South Africans can be immensely proud of," said proud South African Rugby Union President Oregan Hoskins on Monday.
"Since making his Springbok debut in 2004, Bryan has been an inspiration on and off the field and it is very well-deserved that his name will forever live in the annals of the game as the first Springbok to reach this special milestone and a man who set a mark that will take a very special player to eclipse."
Daisuke Ohata of Japan is the most prolific Test try scorer with 69 five-pointers in 58 Tests. He is followed by David Campese (64 in 101 Tests), Shane Williams (60 in 91 Tests for Wales and the British & Irish Lions), Hirotoki Onozawa of Japan (55 in 80 Tests) and Rory Underwood (50 in 91 Tests for England and the British & Irish Lions).
The Rugby Championship kicks off on Saturday 17th August, with South Africa hosting Argentina.
Posted at 7:38 am | 13 comments
Monday, June 24, 2013
Scotland scored a last minute converted try to snatch a 30-29 victory over Italy in Pretoria on Saturday. The two northern hemisphere sides were competing for third place in the inaugural Quad Series in South Africa.
Flanker Alasdair Strokosch scored after the final hooter, giving Greig Laidlaw a shot at goal to sneak the win over their Six Nations rivals, and end the season on a high.
Italy started well with a first minute try to Leonardo Sarto, but Matt Scott cancelled that out soon after. Sean Lamont then crossed, before another penalty brought Italy back into the game.
It was all square at 20-20 at the break, before Alberto Di Bernardo's boot gave the Italians what looked like a comfortable lead and a good crack at their first win of the tournament.
Strokosch's dramatic late effort knocked the stuffing out of the Italians though, with Laidlaw's conversion sealing the win. He has praised the youngsters for their efforts.
"The new caps were absolutely brilliant. I thought they were outstanding, every one of them. It has been tough but there is flip side to that coin. The young guys on the tour have put their hand up and they've given more depth to Scottish rugby already and they've only played in two or three Tests.
"We are disappointed at the performance but last week was a good performance and we were beaten. This week we did cross the line. It took us 80 minutes but we did it," the skipper added.
South Africa won the tournament, winning all their games and beating Samoa 56-23 in the final.
Posted at 4:14 pm | 5 comments
England Under 20's won the IRB Junior World Championship after coming from behind to beat Wales in the final in the north west of France yesterday. In the third place playoff, South Africa staged a comeback of their own as they beat New Zealand.
Wales led 15-3 at halftime and looked on the way to their first ever JWC title, but failed to capitalise after England went down to 14 men and had a try disallowed shortly before the break.
Jack Nowell and Sam Hill tries brought them back into the game before two penalties by Henry Slade extended the lead, earning them a well deserved victory after having been runners up three times in the past.
Earlier a repeat of last year's final saw South Africa come from behind to beat New Zealand in the third place playoff in Vannes. The Baby Blacks were up 21-0 at one stage, before the Baby Boks launched a comeback and won the game 41-24.
"For the sixth year in a row, the IRB Junior World Championship has delivered brilliant matches, we've seen some magnificent skills on display and fans have witnessed top quality matches with open, running rugby," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
IRB Junior Player of the Year 2013
While it was disappointment for Wales in the final, young flyhalf Sam Davies was awarded the IRB Junior Player of the Year 2013 title following commanding performances throughout the tournament. He is the first Welshman to win the award, and the first to receive an IRB age grade honour since Gavin Henson was named IRB Young Player of the Year in 2001.
"It is an honour, just to see the names of the other people that have had it before me, it makes it extra special. I’m gutted with the result today but this is a bonus picking up this Award," he said.
Elsewhere, France beat Argentina to finish in fifth place, Australia finished seventh after beating Ireland, Samoa defeated Scotland to claim ninth place, and the USA were relegated to the IRB Junior World Trophy after they were beaten by Fiji.
Highlights of the final are below, and you can follow the links for the other games, or view all
Posted at 11:39 am | 22 comments
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Samoan winger Alesana Tuilagi has been suspended for two weeks for the dangerous high tackle that he made on Springbok Jean de Villiers in the final of the Quad Series in Pretoria on Saturday. The Springboks won the game 56-23.
As always when these two sides meet, the game was physically brutal as both teams smashed one another at every opportunity throught the eighty minutes at Loftus Versveld.
At times things overstepped the mark though, as a few incidents were referred to the TMO for foul play, and shortly after one of the worst - a testicle grab by James So'oialo - Tuilagi flew into De Villiers with a stiffarm tackle that made contact with the Bok centres face.
De Villiers showed his class as he handled things well, and if anything he did Tuilagi a favour by hopping back up and not feigning injury. The officials had their own view though.
Tuilagi, who earlier made a few legal big hits, was shown a straight red card and later cited.
Today a disciplinary hearing found him guilty of foul play, and suspended him for two weeks. The NTT Shining Arcs (Japan) player is free to play again on 15 July.
Below is a look at the tackle, and we'll have other incidents and match highlights soon.
Do you agree with the straight red card decision?
Posted at 4:44 pm | 60 comments