Monday, May 19, 2014
Northampton Saints and Saracens will contest the Aviva Premiership Final on May 31st following wins over Leicester Tigers and Harlequins respectively. If you missed the games, here are quick official highlight wraps from both semi finals.
Both games included a fair bit of controversy, with Salesi Ma'afu being red carded for punching Tom Youngs, while Saracens winger Chris Ashton has been spoken to by the RFU regarding an incident in the first half. He allegedly shouted 'push it' as Nick Evans was taking a conversion.
Saints beat Tigers 21-20 in a hard-fought game at Franklin's Gardens. Coach Jim Mallinder has since spoken of the team's need to not dwell on the win, but follow up with a significant triumph.
"To go down to 14 men and still come out of it was testament to the massive character of the side," he said. "A significant moment will be when we win a big competition. We've been in a Heineken Cup final, we were in the Premiership final last season. It will be significant when we win a big one."
Ma'afu will face a disciplinary hearing for the red card he received after decking Youngs, while Tigers flyhalf Owen Williams has been charged with "acts contrary to good sportsmanship/making contact with the eye(s) or eye area of Luther Burrell". Their hearings are on Tuesday evening.
Saracens meanwhile are eyeing a historic 'double' as they are in both the Premiership final and the Heineken Cup final. They beat Harlequins 31-17 on Saturday (highlights on page two).
"The squad is really confident at the moment and they front up every single week," said coach Mark McCall, who's team first needs to take on Toulon in Cardiff this coming Saturday (May 24th).
Saracens vs Harlequins Highlights (on page two)
Posted at 10:00 am | 26 comments
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Glasgow Warriors and Leinster will meet in the RaboDirect PRO12 final on 31 May after victories over Munster and Ulster respectively. It was Semi Final weekend in the Premiership and Top 14 too, so we have highlights and a wrap of both games here.
The PRO12 Final will be held in Dublin, at the RDS, for the third consecutive year as Leinster finished the season top of the table on 82 points, three ahead of the Warriors on 79.
It was the Scottish side that reached the final first, upsetting Munster 16-15 in a historic clash at Scotstoun on Friday night. They did so without star players Stuart Hogg and Duncan Weir.
Coach Gregor Townsend praised the discipline of his side after the famous win in front of 10 000 fans. "That is the proudest moment of my coaching career, without a doubt. To be involved in a game like that, when the players put everything into it but also show skill and talent, is fantastic.
"When our lead was cut to just a point, we could easily have given away a penalty just for going offside and cost us the match. But the effort in defence to keep them out was superb," he added.
On Saturday night Leinster had to dig deep to overcome an inspired Ulster outfit who were in search of a title to send off retiring Johan Muller and Paddy Wallace, as well as Tom Court and John Afoa, who are also leaving Ravenhill.
It was a low scoring, tense battle with the only try of the match being scored in the 72nd minute. It proved to be the decisive blow as replacement Ian Madigan went over to give the hosts the lead.
"We gave ourselves a mountain to climb I suppose, I think it was 9-0 at one stage and that's never easy, especially against a team like Ulster," said Jamie Heaslip. "We crept out the win in the end."
Highlights of Leinster vs Ulster (page two)
Posted at 2:58 pm | 12 comments
Friday, May 16, 2014
Munster lock Donncha O'Callaghan is known to be quite a character so it's no surprise that when asked to answer some random questions recently, he delivered. He accepted an award on the night too, and as you can see here, has quite a way with words.
The Lions tourist in 2005 and 2009 first made an appearance on RD many years back after he attempted to play rugby without any shorts on. In a 2006 match against the Cardiff Blues they were ripped off, so rather than waste time trying to replace them, he simply joined the lineout.
"You can't play like this," said the none too amused French referee, forcing him to get a new pair.
O'Callaghan has played rugby for Munster for an incredible 16 seasons. Now 35-years-old, he will start off the bench in tonight's crunch RaboDirect PRO12 semi final against Glasgow Warriors.
With 94 caps for his country and other locks looking like they might prevent him from reaching the cherished 100 caps, he has said that he hopes if it happens, it's under the right circumstances.
"It's competitive as ever," he told Thescore.ie in a frank chat earlier this week.
"If you're in the team, you want to be there on merit. The more competitive it is for positions, the better it is for everybody. You know that if a guy is picked ahead of you, and is a quality fella, that he has to produce the goods. That can only be good for the team," he added.
In this entertaining chat O'Callaghan speaks about those team mates and things like who the best dancer is, who would be last man standing on a night out, and who has the worst dress sense. "A lot of our younger guys are starting to dress like One Direction, and I don't know where that's at."
O'Callaghan was attending the Hibernia College IRUPA Rugby Players' Awards 2014, where he was presented with the Boardmatch Contribution to Society award
Posted at 3:24 pm | 20 comments
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Last week the Rugby HQ guys came up with this great compilation that has since racked up thousands of views. The preview image might have a little something to do with that, but the selection is top notch as always and features some absolute howlers.
[Spoiler Alert: Below is a run down of the five clips that are featured, in order.]
Amongst the bloopers is a clip that we posted many years back, featuring former Springbok prop CJ van der Line and his attempt at being a scrumhalf. As you can see, it didn't go well.
At number two it's the Brumbies' Matt Toomua and his entry for what was possibly the most forward pass ever. It happened against the Force in last year's Super Rugby, and while that kind of mistake can probably be seen occasionally in grassroots rugby, this was a shocker. Funny though.
Brent Ward's pass that slipped out the hands in the NPC was fairly amusing too, but Six Nations fans will never forget the mayhem that was flanker Mauro Bergamasco's outing at scrumhalf.
The Nick Mallett experiment went horribly wrong against England as poor Mauro struggled, and was yanked from the game at halftime. Mallet explained: "I thought about substituting Mauro after 25 minutes but I didn't want to take him off like that in front of the eyes of 80,000 people."
That worked out well. About as well as Willie Ripia's attempt to swing it wide for the Hurricanes.
Cory Jane is one of the most talented rugby players on the planet, but that face seems to be a magnet for the ball. Rugby HQ host Sean Maloney summed it up best: "In a world XV for balls to the face, Cory Jane is your captain and coach."
There's some good stuff related to these players in the Related Posts below the video, but are there any other moments that you think could have been contenders for worst pass ever?
Posted at 4:03 pm | 8 comments
Quick catchup with the Shortball, bringing you the best tries from each Super Rugby match at the weekend, as well as a bit extra. This week the hits weren't too good, but the tries were great.
Posted at 12:01 pm | 1 comments
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
A 135kg (at least) schoolboy prop scored a hat-trick of tries in a match between Sacred Heart College and Kelston Boys at the weekend. Known as the Tongan Thor, Taniela Tupou celebrated his 18th birthday in style by running in three great tries.
With unbelievable acceleration and balance for someone his size, the Auckland schoolboy showed that he also has a strong fend and can throw a pretty mean dummy. If he hasn't already caught the attention of Super Rugby selectors, this is sure to do it.
If anyone has any more info on the big guy, where he's at in terms of career progress etc, please drop us an email or leave a comment below. Thanks
Posted at 3:34 pm | 27 comments
Here's a short video from the Leicester Tigers vs Sale Sharks Aviva Premiership match last weekend, showing referee JP Doyle getting too close to the action. It's not the first time, and on this occasion Ref Cam offered a unique perspective.
It's from the same match as the Logovi'i Mulipola's big charge and shows hooker Marc Jones - the man Mulipola ran over in that clip - trying to get in a position to take a pass headed his direction. Unfortunately Doyle got in the way, which provided a quick comedic moment for the fans.
The interesting thing about this is seeing it from the Ref Cam perspective, as the ball looked like it was passed directly at Doyle, when it was in fact nicely floated for Jones' run.
The Irish referee got in the way, but neither he nor Jones touched or caught it, so he correctly called for the players to play on. "We have to play, the ball didn't hit me," he said, and later on the replay you could hear him comment, "Don't pass it to me!".
Posted at 9:28 am | 7 comments