Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Famed for his no-nonsense attitude to officiating, referee Nigel Owens was evidently fed up with England captain Chris Robshaw's persistent attempts to influence his decisions during England's 55-35 win over France at Twickenham on Saturday.
In the 72nd minute Robshaw made an effort to draw Owens' attention to an incident where he clearly believed a French player to be at fault. After replying with his opinion on the situation, Owens was unimpressed with Robshaw's continued endeavours to change his mind.
In a school teacher tone of voice, Owens flashed the England skipper a serious look and said, "Christopher," after which Robshaw quickly apologised with "Sorry sir," and the game continued.
The incident is highly amusing, but also a fantastic advert for the respect shown to match officials in the sport. Whilst it may appear the England leader is pestering Owens, he isn't acting far outside the remit of any other international captains, and is quick to make amends and apologise for his actions when aware he's overstepped the mark.
Some of the most successful leaders of all time, such as Martin Johnson and Richie McCaw, are famed for their ability to mediate a match by influencing refereeing decisions and winning favour with the officials – the trick is knowing when to stop however, a mistake Robshaw won't likely make again.
View more of Owens sorting out players, including 30 players at once, in the Related Posts below
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
In what was a farcical first half in the rain of Durban, three players were red carded within twenty minutes as the Sharks and the Chiefs played out a tense Super Rugby round 6 contest. Arguably the worst of the three was this uncalled for kick to the face, that resulted in a month ban.
Just minutes after Chiefs hooker Hika Elliot was red carded for charging into a ruck with his shoulder, Springbok hooker Du Plessis was held by number eight Michael Leitch on the floor. In the process of releasing his foot, he lashed out, kicking Leitch in the face.
Referee Angus Gardner, who had a tough day out, had little choice but to send Du Plessis from the field. He has since received a four-week suspension from SANZAR.
"The player’s kick was pre-meditated, intentional and unprovoked," explained SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden. "It was reckless, that is the player knew (or should have known) there was a risk of committing an act of foul play.
"In my opinion the offence was a grave one and the possibility of serious injury existed.
"The Chiefs' No. 8 was in a vulnerable position on the ground. He did not see the kick, even if he had, he had limited means available to him, given the position of his arms and body, to protect himself from the player's actions.
"Whilst the player claims he was frustrated by Chiefs' No. 8 not releasing him from the tackle earlier that does not, in my opinion, entitle him to retaliate by kicking his opponent in the area of the head with a studded boot. The head is of course sacrosanct."
Casseldon went on to state that Du Plessis has a very clean record, considering his long playing career and his only blemish being a suspension in 2008 for a dangerous tackle.
"The player has played professional rugby for approximately 12 years. He has played 77 Test matches for South Africa, 125 Super Rugby matches and in the order of 47 Currie Cup matches. Apart from a three week suspension in 2008 the player's disciplinary record is unblemished.
"This is his first red card offence in a lengthy first class playing career [note: the sending off against New Zealand, from two yellow cards, was expunged from his record when it was found to be the incorrect referee decision].
"Having regard to the above mitigating factors and the overall culpability of the player’s offending, I was satisfied that the eight week entry point should be reduced to four weeks," he concluded.
Liam Messam guilty of headlock but not punished
Chiefs skipper Liam Messam can be seen holding Sharks player Renaldo Bothma in a headlock just prior to this incident. Messam was cited for dangerous tackling, but admitted his guilt and was charged with commiting an act contrary to good sportsmanship.
Due to his good disciplinary record, no further punishment was handed out.
Not to be outdone by the high scoring Six Nations, Round 6 of Super Rugby served up some excellent bits of play, including a few top tries. Here is Sky NZ's look at three of the best, including two Crusaders scorchers and a dramatic late winning try for the Lions in Melbourne.
View more great tries from around the world of rugby
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Monday, March 23, 2015
Rugby fans across the world will be all to familiar with Nick 'The Honey Badger' Cummins, mostly due to his outstanding interviews coining such phrases as 'sweating like a gypsy with a mortgage' and 'going off like a bag of cats'. He left for a while, but now he's back.
Cummins was granted a release from the Japanese side Coca Cola Red Sparks to re-join his beloved Western Force side for the 2015 Asteron Life Super 15 season. Cummins had made the deal to sign for the Japanese side after his father - who was named Queensland's Father of the Year in 2012 for raising eight children, two with cystic fibrosis - was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Even better news for rugby fans is that Cummins is also eligible to play for the Wallabies in 2015 and if selected he could feature in their 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign in England.
His return to the Force is no mystery, as he wants a chance of breaking into the Australia team for this year's World Cup, claiming that it is 'a big one to tick off' and to have a few more caps to add to his previous 15. His scoring of a try – or 'bagging a meat pie' as he puts it – against Australia for the Barbarians in their 40-36 loss clearly whetted his appetite for more top level rugby
Cummins will return to Red Sparks at the end of the Super 15 season to prepare for their 2015/16 Top League season and made it known that he is extremely thankful to 'the Western Force and more importantly the Coca Cola Red Sparks in Japan for making my return back to Australia possible'.
His return to the Force has been welcomed by his former teammates and as Cummins himself puts it, "I don’t know if they are laughing with me or at me, but either way is a win".
The Honey Badger admits that he found it hard to settle down in his new oriental surroundings in Japan, but after meeting his teammates and engrossing himself in the culture, he started to enjoy life in his new home. Especially the all you can eat Yakiniku Korean BBQ restaurants.
credit: foxsports australia/rugby hq
Sunday, March 22, 2015
France number ten Jules Plisson was left wondering who had allowed a runaway bull into Twickenham on Saturday, only to return from a world of pain to realise it was England second row Courtney Lawes who had thumped him to the ground.
The recently back from injury Lawes was in his usual ferocious form, epitomising his desire with a trademark monstrous tackle on the French playmaker.
Well known for his ability to put formidable pressure on opposition fly-halves, Lawes's execution was timed to perfection as he made contact just as Plisson passed the ball.
Fully committed to the challenge, the English lock was subject to some French remonstration immediately following the hit, but subsequent replays showed that there was no fault in Lawes's technique and referee Nigel Owens was happy for play to continue.
To Plisson's credit, having taken some time to catch his breath and comprehend what had just happened, he returned to his feet and threw himself back into the game – but was perhaps a little more wary of Lawes's whereabouts whilst in possession.
Video of the hit has been circulated widely since the match, with this one, in which you can hear referee Owens reacting to the tackle, already reaching around half a million views in just one day.
England went on to win the match 55-35, which although it was an impressive victory, wasn't enough to win the Championship, as they finished second for the fourth consecutive year.
You can view more of Lawes' brutal hits in the Related Posts below this video
England had the advantage of playing third on the final day of the Six Nations, so knew exactly what they needed to edge Ireland to the title - a 26 point winning margin over France. As it was, an epic match ensued, but England came up short when they won 55-35.
It was a battle within a battle, as England put on one of their best ever performances to give themselves a real shot at the title, but the French, playing only for pride, scored some wonderful tries of their own and never gave up in front of a jampacked Twickenham.
On a day when Wales scored 60 against Italy and Ireland scored 40 against Scotland, England's 55 points against arch rivals France simply weren't good enough, leaving a bitter-sweet taste for fans, and players, who came within inches of claiming a Six Nations title.
Ben Youngs, who scored two tries in the pulsating game, was left heartbroken post match.
"I don't really know what to say. I'm devastated... First of all, congratulations to Ireland. From our point of view, we're devastated. We gave it a crack, but you can't let them get back in the game.
"Each time we got a try they seem to get one back and that was the biggest disappointment.
"But we were determined not to leave anything out there or waste any chances. It's not very often you score seven tries, beat France and walk off feeling pretty sick. But at least we have the consolation of winning a big game at Twickenham and showing people that we can finish off moves and score plenty of tries when we play this way," the Man of the Match scrumhalf added.
Coach Stuart Lancaster said he was gutted to come second again, but praised his team.
"I said to the boys that's one of the most courageous performance I've seen from a team. To go down like we did and show the character to come back. It was an unbelievable game of rugby and it was desperately disappointing not to get that try at the end."
"We played some fantastic rugby and those two first tries from France hurt us but it will go down as one of the great games of rugby. Credit to Ireland for winning the championship, they beat us and congratulations to Joe [Schmidt] and all his team."
England, Ireland and Wales all finshed the tournament on 8 points, but Ireland's suprior points difference of 63 (to England's 57 and Wales' 53) proved crucial. France came fourth, while Italy's victory at Murrayfield kept them off the bottom, where Scotland bagged the wooden spoon.