Thursday, April 23, 2015
Sean Maloney and the team down at Fox Sports have another cracking Wraparound for Week 11 of Super Rugby. Sit back and enjoy your regular dose of exciting, embarrassing and occasionally baffling events from the world of rugby this past week.
Hurricanes' flanker Ardie Savea won't want to watch the first 30 seconds of this episode, as the guys take another look at his bombed try against the Waratahs last week - the table toppers ended up losing by 4 points for their first defeat of the season.
With plenty to talk about from over the weekend, keep an eye out for referee Nick Briant taking a pass right on the nose, get another look at Marlie Packer's incredible display of strength at the women's sevens in Canada, and an unexpected pitch invader in the European Champions Cup semi-final between Toulon and Leinster.
Stick about until the end to witness Bath Rugby winger, Horacio Agulla, proving that his conversion skills can rival that of James Stannard, as he attempts to outdo the Australian's impressive effort from last week's Wraparound.
For more from the Fox Sports team head to our Plays of the Week archives
Springbok and Stormers superstar Schalk Burger has won the 2015 Laureus Comeback of the Year award for his exceptional achievements on and off the rugby pitch. You can read more about his inspirational story below, then watch the a touching video documenting his incredible journey over the past few years, and his remarkable return to topflight rugby.
Established in 1999, the Laureus Awards are essentially the sports equivalent of The Oscars. Nominees come from all over the world in a variety of disciplines, each with their own story and background that justifies their nomination.
This year Schalk Burger was recognised for his inspirational journey from international rugby player to hospital patient fighting for his life, and then climbing back to the top.
"Oustanding workrate," "unparallelled desire," "phenomenal strength," - all are terms often heard to describe the playing style of the South African flanker.
Accompanied by his humble nature off the pitch, Burger is admired as a true gentleman of the sport, encapsulating the ethos of rugby. Fortunately, his never say die attitude on the pitch is the same mindset that would see him through the months of ongoing health complications, starting in early 2013.
After genuine fears for his life, with his family by his side, the Springbok warrior fought back from bacterial meningitis, a coma, and four invasive procedures to remove the cyst on his spine which had caused the problems to begin with.
All in all he would spend 6 weeks in hospital and a further 8 weeks recovering indoors.
With a professional opinion that his rugby career was certainly over - Burger set about proving that wrong.
Now, just over two years since his initial diagnosis, Burger has played his 100th Super Rugby match and competed once again on the world stage for the Springboks, with the next goal to being selected for the upcoming Rugby World Cup.
South African Rugby Union chief executive, Oregan Hoskins, offered his words in recognition of Burger's resolve. "What Schalk has gone through in the last couple of years and what he has achieved makes it one of the most inspirational sporting stories in our recent history.
"I would like to congratulate him on this amazing achievement."
Below is the moving nomination video that was used at the awards to present his remarkable journey, with contributions from his wife, family, friends and Schalk himself. It goes some way towards trying to imagine just what he has accomplished after coming so close to losing it all.
On page 2 there is a fascinating interview with the man himself from his appearance on Rugby HQ last year, as well as a touching clip of him accepting his award in fitting humble fashion.
credit: Bigsky Productions
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