Wednesday, April 08, 2015
Sometimes it takes a sea change to reinvigorate yourself. Toulon playmaker Matt Giteau knows this more than most. Giteau was in Australia recently following injury, but has since returned to France, playing for Toulon in their Champions Cup Quarter Final against Wasps.
The reigning Top 14 player of the season made his international debut for the Wallabies at the age of 20, amassing 92 tests and 104 Super Rugby games before leaving the country in bitter circumstances in 2011.
Bagged by the media, his coach and fans the curtain fell down on his glittering international career with the Wallabies infamous 32-23 loss to Samoa that year.
'Exiled' to the Top 14, Giteau signed with Toulon, trading the cold of Canberra for the Mediterranean coast of Southern France.
Four years later Giteau is, considered by some, in the form of his career steering Toulon to back-to-back European championship titles and securing the Top 14-Europe double last year.
Former Toulon teammate and 2003 world cup final rival Jonny Wilkinson has gone on record saying that he can't fathom how Australian Rugby let the utility back go.
"He's exceptional, I don't quite know how a team ever let him go in Australia to come over here," Wilkinson commented late last year.
David Campese also recently included Giteau in the Australian team he would take to the 2015 World Cup, and former Wallaby coach John Connolly went further, stating Giteau was the ideal captain.
However, despite his stunning form Australia's current eligibility laws rule out any future caps for the 32 year old, automatically disqualifying overseas players.
Giteau has largely credited his turnaround to the birth of his sons, Levi and Kai, and the increased work-life balance playing in France has brought his family.
Australian fans will want to remember their names, as Levi and Kai certainly have sporting pedigree. Their mother Bianca Franklin is a professional netballer and sister to Australian Football star Buddy, while Matt's father, Ron, also captained the Canberra Raiders in the NRL.
Giteau was back in Canberra recovering from groin surgery recently so caught up with the guys from Rugby HQ about his rollercoaster career.
Would you pick him in the Wallabies squad for this year's Rugby World Cup?
Tuesday, April 07, 2015
Saracens defeated Racing Metro 12-11 in the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup this weekend, but only found victory with the final kick of the match.
An incredibly close fought affair between the French giants and last year's finalists Saracens brought only one try, and the result wasn't decided until the last minute of play.
Man of the match, Racing Metro scrum-half Maxime Machenaud, displayed an all round masterclass in game management and distribution, not to mention scoring all of his team's points, but his performance alone wasn't enough to defeat the English club.
Despite leading at the break 6-5, Saracens went behind in the second-half and for all their efforts it looked as if they were going to finish the match second best. Error strewn attacking play constantly handing possession back to the home side, and the visitor's could see their European campaign slipping away.
Within the final minute, Racing were attempting to run down the clock and defend their two point lead by maintaining possession on their own ten metre line, whilst hawk eyed referee Nigel Owens could be heared to warn the French side about going off their feet in the ruck.
In the next tackle however, Racing were penalised for exactly such an offence having not heeded Owens' clearly audible warnings.
Up stepped the Argentinian outside-centre for Saracens, well known for his monster boot, Marcelo Bosch.
Despite rather "un-rugby-like" noises from the crowd attempting to distract Bosch, his aim was true and the subsequent whistle brought joy for Saracens and heartbreak for Racing Metro, as their European challenge ended in the cruelest of circumstances.
Saracens will face Clermont Auvergne in the next round, the semi finals, on April 18th.
Saracens have shared a great video showing the reaction from the bench as Bosch kicked the winner. You can view that on page two here, and check out the Related Posts for more monster penalty kicks.
credit: Boucherie Ovalie
Monday, April 06, 2015
England beat the current series leaders, South Africa, 21-14 in the final of the Tokyo Sevens, round seven of the HSBC World Sevens Series. Check out all the highlights from Day 2 of the competition, including Canada's first ever sevens victory over New Zealand.
South Africa remain top of the overall standings going into Round 8, with Fiji only four points behind. Despite their triumph, fourth placed England still trail third placed New Zealand by 20 points.
Next weekend the teams travel to Glasgow, where we can expect more fireworks and exciting play from one of the most entertaining spectacles in World Rugby.
Check out the Related Posts for more great sevens action
Saturday, April 04, 2015
On the 18th of September England will take on Fiji at Twickenham to end the four year wait since the last Rugby World Cup. Much has changed since then, not least the players for whom the immense challenge lies ahead. A look back at 2011 plus a look ahead to this year's tournament is sure to get your pulse racing.
Since the maiden tournament in 1987, the Webb Ellis trophy has been held aloft by four separate countries, twice by each southern hemisphere giant; New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, and once by England.
No team has ever successfully retained the World Cup, but All Blacks supporters will harbour cautious optimism that their nation can buck the trend, as since the 2011 Final the Kiwis have only lost on two occasions – an undeniably intimidating and formidable track record.
Anticipation for northern hemisphere fans will be as high as ever. After a record-breaking RBS Six Nations, including a final weekend where free-flowing rugby brought high scoring matches, a home World Cup affords the supporters guarded positivity.
The 2011 competition was rife with impressive rugby and controversy in equal measure. A straight red card for Wales captain Sam Warburton in their semi-final clash with France saw the men in red suffer a single point defeat, as their first ever world cup final disappeared before them.
France went on to face the All Blacks, and despite famously challenging the Haka, they suffered a loss as New Zealand reigned victorious for the second time. A result, which most rugby critics would agree, saw the trophy heading to undoubtedly the best team in the world that year.
New Zealand remains the top pick for the 2015 World Cup, with strong +175 odds to win it all according to the following online sportsbook.
The largest competition welcomes the world's rugby elite, and with it the ultimate prize. The stage is set for a thrilling tournament and September can’t come soon enough!
The video below shows some of the highlights from four years ago, accompanied by that incredible song it is sure to get your thoughts racing and your heart pumping - with less than 6 months to go, who do you think will win this year's tournament?
Check out the Related Posts for some of the greatest moments from the Rugby World Cup.
credit: World Rugby
Friday, April 03, 2015
We've seen a lot of strange things on Rugbydump, but this has to be up there with the strangest. The Hong Kong Sevens featured the first ever game of Kung-Fu rugby… yes you read that correctly, Kung-Fu rugby.
There isn't much that we can really say about the sport, you quite literally have to see it to believe it. The Harlem Globetrotters ain't got nothing on these boys!
See more cracy clips from the world of rugby in our See it To Believe It section
Having been ruled out of the rest of the Aviva Premiership season for Leicester Tigers due to an ongoing groin injury, the powerful centre hasn't played a competitive game of rugby since October 2014 and hasn't played for England since June. Although expected to be fit for England's world cup warm-ups, with the international centre position's so hotly contested, will Stuart Lancaster still want Tuilagi?
The Samoan-born battering ram joined Leicester Tigers in 2010, and since then has played 77 matches amassing 24 tries.
He duly received his England call up during the warm-up matches for the last Rugby World Cup back in 2011, where he scored tries in victories over Wales and Ireland, going on to be recognised as one of the standout players for his country in a largely underwhelming trophy campaign.
Now with 11 tries in 25 caps, Tuilagi will meet with stiff competition as he fights for his place in Lancaster's team.
Traditionally an outside centre for club and country, the 6"1' and 112kg colossus will have to prove he is more of an asset than the in-form Bath midfielder Jonathan Joseph, if he wants the white 13 shirt come September.
Joseph played every match for England through their impressive Six Nations efforts this year, ending the tournament as top try scorer and presenting no clear reason for omission this summer, therefore Tuilagi will have to do something special to oust Joseph from the team.
Luther Burrell was Lancaster's favoured inside centre through the competition, and although a solid player, perhaps this is where Tuilagi should aim his sights.
South African star Bryan Habana believes that would be the right move, saying, "The combination of Ford, Joseph and Tuilagi would be impressive."
He went on to say that, "Jonathan Joseph has shown that his game has improved immensely. He has really grown into that position at Bath and the presence that Luther Burrell brings is good, and Manu Tuilagi is hard to leave out."
That last point is really the crux of the issue - despite Burrell and Joseph both being world class players, and with Brad Barritt, Kyle Eastmond and Billy Twelvetrees in the wings the competition is truly elite, but can Lancaster really afford to leave Tuilagi out?
After all, the presence of the Tigers' centre was a huge factor in England's record 38-21 win over New Zealand at Twickenham in 2012. Scoring a try himself and setting up two others, his performance in the match catapulted his profile within world rugby.
The video below (apologies for some of the bad language) shows some of Manu Tuilagi's best moments. What do you think: should Tuilagi be in the England squad? And if so, which position?
Check the Related Posts for some more of Tuilagi's powerful play
Note: swearing in video. no offence intended
The Hurricanes got the better of the Stormers in their Super Rugby round 8 match in Wellington earlier today. Despite a one sided first half, the Stormers came back in the second, but couldn't quite get the win, going down 25-20.
It was a hard-fought game, at times physically intense, as can be seen here when Julian Savea and Eben Etsebeth came to grips, and played a game of slapsies, smiles and all. Savea actually was smiling at first, then got very serious after the first love tap. Etsebeth, fearless throughout.
It wasn't quite as vicious as when Bismarck Du Plessis and James Horwill did something similar at the Rugby World Cup a few years back, but was equally amusing to see, especially from the comfort of ones living room. Rory Kockott on Adam Thomson, probably the biggest of them all.