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
The Wallabies appear to have dodged a bullet after captain James Horwill was cleared following an incident in the first Test loss to the British and Irish Lions on Saturday. He was cited after allegedly stamping Alun-Wyn Jones.
[updated] The Wallabies are already in a bad place injury wise, and it looked as though Horwill, who had only just returned to Test rugby after a lengthy injury layoff, would be out of the rest of the series after having been cited for a stamp.
Debutant centre Christian Leali'ifano left the field on a stretcher within the first minute of the game, and later both Berrick Barnes (jaw) and Pat McCabe (neck) suffered a similar fate, while Adam Ashley-Cooper appeared to have injured his shoulder.
Horwill will be availble for the second Test however, as he has been cleared of stamping following a lengthy disciplinary hearing in Melbourne earlier today.
Judicial officer Nigel Hampton QC found that on the balance of probabilities, the Horwill could not be found guilty of an intentional or deliberate action of stamping or trampling under law 10.4(b).
"After hearing all the evidence I could not find that, when James Horwill's right foot came into glancing contact with Alun-Wyn Jones' face, that he was acting recklessly," Hampton said.
Horwill appeared to stamp on Alun-Wyn Jones in the third minute, with video evidence showing that his boot grazed the side of the lock's face, who had to get stiches after the game.
"I found that I could not reject as being implausible or improbable Horwill's explanation that, as he was driving forward with his right leg raised, he was spun off balance through the impact of Lions players entering the ruck from the opposite side," Hampton continued.
"In an endeavour to regain his balance, Horwill brought his right leg to the ground unknowing that Alun-Wyn Jones' head was in that area, due to having his sight impeded by the presence of Michael Hooper and Tom Croft who were beneath him and over the top of Alun-Wyn Jones.
"Due to these reasons, I cannot uphold the citing."
The decision will no doubt anger Lions management, as well as fans, who may feel that there is a bit of history with host teams getting off lightly with incidents during Lions tours.
"I played in the days of rucking and I've still got some scars from some good ruckings," said Warren Gatland. "The head to me was sacrosanct... you stay away from that."
UPDATE 27-06-13 - The IRB will appeal the decision
Horwill is free to play pending the outcome, which means his selection for the second Test stands. If anything, he'll likely miss the third and some of the Rugby Championship.
Posted at 9:28 am | 118 comments
Saturday, June 22, 2013
The Lions held on to win the first Test as the Wallabies, who had multiple injuries to contend with, missed two chances to take the lead late in the game. The outcome of the series now looks as though it'll be down to who adapts best to injury setbacks.
The Wallabies got off to an awful start as debutant Christian Leali'ifano was knocked out cold in the first minute after a strong carry from centre Jonathan Davies. It set the tone for the match, as Berrick Barnes, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane and Adam Ashley Cooper followed.
At one stage in the second half the Wallabies had flanker Michael Hooper in the backline, but they showed great courage to hang on nevertheless, coming painfully close to snatching the win from two late penalty attempts.
Earlier brilliant tries were scored in a scintilating first half, with debutant Israel Folau scoring after a brilliant Will Genia break, and then George North scoring arguably one of the greatest Lions tries.
Folau got his second try with a sensational inside step and fend, before Alex Cuthbert crossed through the disorganised Wallaby midfield later in the game.
In the end it all came down to a penalty attempt from Kurtley Beale at the death. Beale, just having returned from time out of the game due to some personal issues, slipped on the chewed up turf, allowing the Lions to take the win and go 1-0 in a series that has already been a fantastic advert for the code of Union in Australia.
"KB did as well as he could. I told him not to worry about it... everyone in the team still loves him," said captain James Horwill, who was later cited for a stamp.
Multiple players will undergo scans today and this week, and it looks as though Paul O'Connell is on his way home after suffering with a broken bone in his arm. Prop Alex Corbisiero is also under an injury cloud, so Australian born Ireland prop Tom Court joins the Lions squad as cover.
On the balance of the first Test, one might say that the Lions were lucky to take the win. They played some great rugby but the Wallabies had very little luck, missing early kicks at goal from James O'Connor, losing key players to injury, and of course missing those late Beale kicks at goal.
It'll be interesting to see the approach to the next Test as both units will have to rebuild, restructure and reinvent themselves somewhat, especially the Wallabies, if they aim to take the series victory.
Post match interview with Leigh Halfpenny | British and Irish Lions section
Feel free to share your thoughts on the game (and the incredible tries!) in the comments below.
Posted at 2:51 pm | 99 comments