Monday, March 10, 2014
England won the Triple Crown on Sunday after adding Wales to their list of conquests in this year's Six Nations. The defending champions were outplayed at Twickenham as the hosts avenged the heavy defeat in Cardiff last year with a 29-18 victory.
England are still in with a good shot at claiming the Championship and while the Triple Crown win would have been enjoyable - it's only the first time they've won it since 2003 - the Six Nations title is the main goal. To achieve that, they'll be hoping Ireland lose to France next weekend.
"Lifting the Triple Crown at Twickenham on Sunday was one of the most special moments of my England career," said skipper Chris Robshaw in his Telegraph column.
"We were embarrassed by Wales last season, there is no hiding from the fact. It has been a long year for a lot of us, so to go out and deliver a performance like that in front of our own supporters was a fantastic feeling.
"We will need a bit of luck in Paris and to deliver in Rome, but we have to believe we can win it."
England scored tries through Danny Care and Luther Burrell, and came close to a third after an excellent counter-attack following a Justin Tipuric error. Burrell was tackled out in the corner, foot on the line, but they will take heart from the manner in which they created the chance.
Courtney Lawes played a big part in that, and was Man of the Match on the day.
From Wales' point of view, coach Warren Gatland is no stranger to being under fire, but he'll have plenty to answer for when one inspects the apparent lack of a a Plan B. With the Rugby World Cup a year away, it appears the Lions-packed side will need to a big 12 months to turn things around.
Posted at 2:00 pm | 67 comments
France snatched victory from Scotland with a dramatic late win at Murrayfield on Saturday. A Jean-Marc Doussain penalty handed France a 19-17 victory, shortly after flyhalf Duncan Weir missed a chance to extend their lead and secure the win.
Scotland led 14-9 at half-time through tries by Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour, and despite a Yoann Huget intercept try, the hosts looked on track for an upset victory.
It was a decisive moment as had the Duncan Weir long pass gone to hand, Scotland had an overlap. Instead it was Huget that poached it and ran the length of the field for a well taken try.
"It is a good sign how we got back into the game and this win is especially important as it shows we can win away from home," said Huget post match.
Weir, who kicked a 61st minute penalty to give Scotland the lead, then missed a shot at goal, giving France the lifeline they needed. A Doussain penalty was calmly slotted with less than two minutes left on the clock, and Scotland fans were denied a famous victory.
France are thus still in contention for this year's Championship, and face Ireland in Paris next week.
"It will be a different game at home at the Stade de France in front of our crowd," said French coach Philippe Saint-Andre.
"We need to start well and accelerate during the 80 minutes but I am sure the guys can do this. I hope the Brian O'Driscoll party was in Dublin last Saturday and not this week at the Stade de France," he added.
Posted at 12:17 pm | 21 comments
Ireland scored seven tries as Dublin bid farewell to Brian O'Driscoll in what was his final Test at home. His 140th cap now makes him the most capped Test player of all time, adding to the sense of occasion for Ireland fans as their team beat Italy 46-7.
It was all about O'Driscoll, and he didn't disappoint as the most capped individual played a big part in a number of Ireland tries. Some of his sublime handling contributed to first half tries for Andrew Trimble and Jonny Sexton, then he did it again in the second, resulting in another try for Sexton.
He went off to a rousing standing ovation with twenty minutes to go, having helped to get his side into a position whereby a win over France in Paris will all but secure a Championship winning send off for the 35-year-old Ireland rugby legend.
"I feel humbled by the reaction today. It seems a bit of of a joke that you get get man of the match for 60 minutes, but I've loved my time playing in this jersey. It had to come to an end at some stage and I'm glad I'm able to go out at home with a big win," O'Driscoll said.
Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Fergus McFadden and Jack McGrath all crossed for tries too, despite Italy looking good at one stage, and having to make a record breaking 208 tackles on the day.
Ireland, England and France are all level on points at the top of the Six Nations table, but Ireland's superior points difference could prove the difference going into the final weekend.
They face France in Paris, while England take on Italy in Rome. More Six Nations to follow soon.
Posted at 8:41 am | 17 comments
Thursday, March 06, 2014
This weekend rivals England and Wales meet in a Six Nations match that has plenty of history, and all to play for as we get down to the penultimate weeked of the tournament. If England win on Sunday, they'll take the Triple Crown and set up a chance of winning the Championship.
Wales on the other hand will be aiming to repeat what they did last year in Cardiff, and hope that this, the final meeting of the two sides in Twickenham before the Rugby World Cup, will be another memorable occasion.
"Wales versus England is always a big game," said Welsh centre Jamie Roberts.
"You only have to look back at the last few seasons when we have played England, the biggest hype has surrounded that game. It is no different this week, I think the magnitude of the game for the Six Nations couldn't be any bigger. Twickenham on Sunday will be immense."
In this week's episode of O2 Inside Line we look at Player Analysis with Ben Morgan and Jonny May, go into the gym with Player Cam - where May performs an impressive box jump - and we learn more about the players in the teammates segment.
Alex Payne then chats to England forwards coach Graham Rowntree, who admits that the game today is much faster and more physical than it was when he played.
What's your prediction for England vs Wales?
Posted at 6:46 pm | 14 comments
This weekend Ireland face Italy in a Six Nations match that they'd be expected to win. Most of the focus will be on Brian O'Driscoll either way, as he will claim the record for most Test caps ever, as well as play his final Test match in Dublin.
In Ireland's last match O'Driscoll equalled the record set by Wallaby great George Gregan, so when facing Italy he is set to eclipse it, then play his final match for his country a week later.
Gregan, who played 139 Tests for his country, has said that the record couldn't go to a better player. "He's just a great player, he still wants to contribute to the teams that he plays with," Gregan said. "So it’s well deserved, he'll go past that and set a new record which is fantastic."
"I got a nice tweet from George Gregan on equaling his record and people have been lovely over the last while. I just want to be able to go out on a high, that's the big thing," he said this week.
O'Driscoll then has a chance to finish on high, as a win in his final match - over France in Paris - could mean a Six Nations championship victory, adding to his long list of accolades.
"There is no individual feeling, there really isn't, there’s always time to reflect afterwards and that’s the time to do it. The team has absolute priority and always has done, there will be no extra emphasis made by anyone this weekend other than giving us a final showdown against France."
BOD's record run at the top may be short-lived however, as there are a few others who might catch up, namely Richie McCaw, who has currently played 124 Tests for New Zealand.
"I'm sure in time it will be broken, yes, there's always scope for guys to break records," O'Driscoll said. "All going well, hopefully I'll get the record this weekend I'm sure it will be broken another time. Lots of guys now are over the 100-cap mark and still playing, and still playing well.
"If guys look after themselves and maintain their fitness for 15 years I think you will see the 150-cap mark broken. I can't see it being a bad thing, someone being consistently good, enough to stay in the competition environment, for 14 or 15 years. So I would definitely say I encourage it."
credit: RTE Rugby
Posted at 9:00 am | 12 comments
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
This is the third part of the CNN report on the growth of Sevens worldwide, featuring Jonah Lomu as he heads home to New Zealand to discuss what makes Sevens so great, and what it was like for him to represent his country in both formats of the game.
Lomu also attends the Wellington Sevens, where he chats to legendary New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens, and is on hand to present the winning trophy to the All Blacks Sevens team.
Posted at 11:04 am | 1 comments
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
There were some outstanding tries scored in Round 3 of Super Rugby, with the tournament now in full swing and the best from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia on show. Here's a compilation of some of the best tries scored over the weekend.
We've already featured Scott Higginbotham's involvement in two great tries, but they're included here too, as well as a whole host of great efforts from the other matches.
In terms of notable mentions, look out for a brilliant crosskick try that the Hurricanes scored against the Stormers, which featured Cory Jane diving to catch the ball then casually sliding over.
Young eighteen year old Tevita Li scored from a restart for the Blues, which in fairness was better when watching live, but is still great to see here, especially after beating the All Black skipper.
The Waratahs, who scored through Israel Folau again, lead the overall table on 10 points from two matches, followed by the Sharks on 9, then the Chiefs on 8. All three have won two from two.
Results: Melbourne Rebels 35 Cheetahs 14, Blues 35 Crusaders 24, Chiefs 21 Highlanders 19, Waratahs 32 Reds 5, Brumbies 27 Force 14, Stormers 19 Hurricanes 18, Vodacom Bulls 25 Lions 17
Remember to get in touch with requests after busy weekends of rugby. We're happy to look at each and every one and will do what's possible to get those great moments shared on the site.
Posted at 3:13 pm | 4 comments