Wednesday, April 15, 2015
That's right rugby fans, it's Plays of the Month time from the team at Fox Sports' Rugby HQ, and they've put together another top video with their usual combination of great tries, big hits and wacky play, plus some other interesting moments from the world of rugby.
We're midway through April but it's never too late to look back the previous month, especially with some of what has gone on in both Super Rugby and the Sevens World Series.
Look out for a starring role from little Cheslin Kolbe, as he set up a beautiful try, but suffered a few big knocks as he bravely put his body on the line. Also, there's Nathan Charles' spectacular falcon, and one of the most painful charge downs you're ever likely to see.
For more best bits from the wonderful world of rugby head to our Plays of the Week archives.
Watching round 9 of Super Rugby must have given Michael Cheika a headache, and not because his Waratahs side was well beaten at home by the Stormers. No, it was the game at Eden Park that will have left the Wallabies coach with the most thinking to do, in particular the performance of Brumbies flanker David Pocock.
Pocock has been magnificent since coming back from a second knee reconstruction operation, reminding fans across the world why before his injuries many regarded him as the finest openside flanker in the world.
Against the Blues he was immovable at the breakdown, turning the ball over on countless occasions and it is this incredible form that will have Cheika reaching for the asprin.
Michael Hooper, Cheika's current Test captain, unfortunately plays in the same position as Pocock, and is also a menace to the opposition, particularly with his skills at the breakdown.
Few international coaches would complain about having two world-class players fighting for the same position and although Cheika will no doubt find a way to include both men, he will have sleepless nights deciding which one will be first choice for the Wallabies jersey.
One things for sure, if Pocock continues to perform like this, the smart money would be on him and Hooper might find himself doing a bit of bench warming come September.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
The race for a playoff and a top six finish heated up this week as the contenders faced off against each other in what is a crucial round of Premiership rugby and one that saw a lot of sin bins. View our highlights wrap on page two of this post, which includes some controversy and a record crowd at Wembley. Above, the Try of the Week contenders.
The tries of the week this round were scored by Sinoti Sinoti, Ollie Lindsay-Hague, Alex Lewington, Semesa Rokoduguni and Phil Dollman.
With slightly less controversy than Round 8, but no less excitement, Round 9 of Super Rugby was awash with great tries, more surprise results and as always some brutal hits to cap it all off. The guys at Rugby HQ, led by Sean Maloney, have put together another recap.
In this week's Shortball compilation, keep an eye out for Cheslin Kolbe's outstanding solo effort, some impressive strength from Will Genia, another look at Willem Alberts' huge shoulder on Mark Richards, and an Aaron Smith penalty attempt he'd rather not remember.
It was a weekend where the underdogs got the bone, as the Blues and the Highlanders defeated the Brumbies and the Crusaders respectively, and the Stormers overturned the Waratahs for their first win on tour.
The Waratahs defeat means that along with the Brumbies, the Reds and Western Force, all four Australian sides who were playing lost, as the Rebels had a bye this week.
The spacing of each nations' top four conference sides within the overall table is interesting to note. Only 4 points separate the South African sides (the Bulls to the Sharks), whilst 11 points come between the New Zealand teams (the Hurricanes to the Crusaders), and a vast 17 points divide the Australian complement (the Brumbies to Western Force).
The completion of Round 9 means the Super Rugby season finds itself at the halfway point with the Hurricanes still out on top unbeaten - but there's a long way to go.
For more Shortball highlights head to our Plays of the Week section.
Grenoble welcomed the current European Champions, Toulon, to the Stade des Alpes for a Top 14 clash this past weekend. This big tackle that Australian flanker Peter Kimlin put on Leigh Halfpenny was far from welcoming however.
Since arriving at the French giants the Welsh fullback has suffered continually with injury troubles, but was starting to look like he was on a solid road to recovery.
A concussion against Italy in the final game of the Six Nations however meant it was back to the sidelines for the metronomic kicker. Having spent his time recovering, an air of excitement encapsulated the return of the Welsh wizard.
Grenoble back rower Kimlin, was not in a sympathetic mood however.
The visitors' openside, Mamuka Gorgodze, lumbered inside his man before lofting an unconventional and somewhat dooming pass to the waiting Halfpenny, which meant he had to stop his run to catch the ball.
After Halfpenny gathered in possession whilst flatfooted, an approaching Kimlin saw his opportunity to put a mammoth shoulder into the stationary target - and he did not miss.
The powerful hit actually caused a minor dislocation in Halfpenny's shoulder, and although bravely continuing to play for 10 minutes, the pain eventually forced him from the field.
The visitors proved too strong for Grenoble on the night, with the final score 23-35 to Toulon.
Initial reports say that Halfpenny is unlikely to play next week in their European Champions Cup semi-final against Leinster, and although Toulon are more than capable of filling the fullback role, the creative play and reliable kicking of the Welsh talisman are sure to be missed.
EXTRA: This came shortly after tank Mathieau Bastereaud had easily dismissed the attempted tackle of Grenoble number 8, Rory Grice. That contest can be seen on page 2.
For more enormous tackles head to our Big Hits section and view the Related Posts below
credit: Monsieur Wiko
Monday, April 13, 2015
The Pro12 supplied another dose of high quality rugby as the regular season begins to come to a close. In arguably one of the most unpredictable weekends of the season, 9th placed Dragons shocked former champions Leinster at Rodney Parade while the Scarlets survived a scare with a last minute penalty to beat Zebre in Parma.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Making his debut for the Lions in Round 9 of Super Rugby this weekend, winger Mark Richards' evening ended early when he was left unconscious after taking a heavy knock from Sharks flanker, Willem Alberts.
Richards, a recognised success in sevens, was making his first appearance for the Lions since his return to 15-a-side rugby. Unfortunately the night didn't end as he, or many of the excited home fans, would have liked.
Lions' scrum-half Faf de Klerk chipped the ball over, but it bounced up awkwardly, as rugby balls so often do, and with credit to Richards for his commitment he kept his eyes locked on regaining possession.
Due to this however, he was unaware of Sharks' openside Alberts bearing down from the opposite direction with a similar desire to poach the ball from the air.
Alberts won the race, and after gathering in possession he continued to motor toward the approaching Richards, who was entirely unprepared to make a tackle as he had been hoping to have the ball himself.
The resulting collision sent the Lions' winger, who weighs 6 stone less than Alberts, down to the turf with a sickening thud.
The officials and medical staff were extremely quick to react and play was stopped as all safety precuations were observed to ensure Richards safety was paramount.
After a lengthy delay the brave winger was stretchered from the pitch, but thankfully was seen up and about on the sidelines during the second half.
Richards will take solace in the fact that the Lions extended their Super Rugby winning streak to four, after the final whistle left the Sharks trailing 21-23 on the night.
Alberts is well known for his aggression and powerful play, and in fact put in a monstrous hit on Jaco Taute in the same Super Rugby encounter back in 2010.
Check out the Related Posts or head to our Big Hits & Dirty Play section for more of the same