Monday, March 17, 2014
Brian O'Driscoll got the fairytale farewell Ireland fans had hoped for as the team he represented 133 times beat France 22-20 in Paris on Saturday to claim the 2014 Six Nations. Ireland's superior points difference proved crucial on the final weekend.
England fans wore blue on Saturday evening as they came within inches of claiming the title, only to have a French try-scoring pass ruled out for being forward. A France victory would have handed them the title, instead Ireland's impressive points tally made all the difference in the end.
O'Driscoll, now 35-years-old and having achieved all there is to achieve in the Northen Hemisphere (plus a Lions tour victory), bows out of the game a year before the Rugby World Cup.
"I don't want to take it off, because I know when I do, it will be for the last time," he said of the famous number 13 Ireland jersey that he's owned for the best part of fifteen years.
"It's a sheer delight to have won the championship. I have had a lot of good memories from the times between winning here 14 years ago and now, but to finish like this is incredibly special.
"Not many get the chance to end their careers on their own terms. I am just thankful to have been part of a great team who have massive potential to become even better," O'Driscoll added.
"I tried to channel my emotions into my performance. I couldn't let the occasion get the better of me. I think I played fair today - I did think I might get in for a try, but I had to come inside as I knew I didn't have the gas to burn on the outside.
"At the end, I did have a frog in my throat, there was a fair bit of emotion. There were some great emotions in the dressing room - and I wouldn’t bet against a few tears later on after a lot of beers!"
French coach Phillipe Saint-Andre, who appeared to question if that final pass was actually forward or not, paid tribute to O'Driscoll and said that next year France might have that extra bit of luck.
"Next year Brian O'Driscoll will not be here and maybe we will have the God of rugby on our side."
Congratulations to Ireland and O'Driscoll. Below are official extended highlights from the match.
Posted at 9:44 am | 23 comments
Scotland suffered their biggest ever Six Nations defeat as Wales piled on the points to crush them 51-3 at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday. Scotland went a man down in the first half as fullback Stuart Hogg was shown a red card for a dangerous challenge.
The Scots never fully recovered and after trailing just 10-3 at the time, they went on to concede another six tries as Wales looked to right the wrongs of their 2014 Championship campaign.
"I thought we were in the contest but it is a hell of a position to fill for that length of time," said Scotland coach Scott Johnson. "Once they were on a roll they played some pretty good rugby, too."
Hogg's late challenge on Dan Biggar was initially punished with just a yellow card, but after seeing replays on the big screen, referee Jerome Garces called Hogg back to show him red.
"We'd seen it in the box but we got a message pretty quickly to Sam Warburton to ask him to have the TMO have a look at it," said Wales coach Warren Gatland. "Sam hadn't even got to him (Garces) when he saw the replay on the screen and made his own decision after that."
Wales had a fairly easy ride after that, attacking from deep and scoring some lovely tries. George North and Jamie Roberts scored two apiece, while Liam Williams, Toby Faletau and Rhodri Williams all crossed to add to the miserable outing for the Scottish.
Wales finished in third position overall (equal with France but with a better points difference), while Scotland came in second from bottom, with Italy taking the Wooden Spoon.
Official extended highlights from the match, including the Hogg red card, are below
Posted at 8:06 am | 35 comments
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Ireland gave Brian O'Driscoll a fitting farewell as they beat France 22-20 in Paris earlier today. France had chances to take the lead late in the game, with Jean Marc Doussain missing a penalty ten minutes from full time, then a Pascal Pape try-scoring pass went forward with two minutes left.
Commiserations to France who fought gallantly all match, but congratulations to Ireland who won in Paris for only the second time in forty years, and claimed their first Six Nations title since 2009.
Above is the late chance for France, but full highlights and a report will be available soon
Posted at 7:13 pm | 71 comments
England set out to score 50+ points against Italy in the hope of surpassing Ireland's superior points difference to give themselves a solid chance of winning the Six Nations, but they only beat Italy 52-11, so have to rely on a French win to hand them the title.
Seven tries in Rome impressed coach Stuart Lancaster, who said he was proud of his team for going there and doing something not many other sides have ever done.
"We scored some great tries and we've come here and scored 50, and not many teams have done that," said England coach Stuart Lancaster. "There were some errors in the first half, but I'm just proud of the boys. It's a great squad we've got developing and the bigger picture is important."
Mike Brown scored twice, while Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, Mako Vunipola, Manu Tuilagi and Chris Robshaw all crossed for tries, with Italy's Leonardo Sarto snatching an intercept try for the hosts.
A string of substitutions late in the game appeared to affect England's rhythm as they struggled to really kick on and pile on the points as planned. A late Robshaw try brought up the fifty though, rubbing salt in the Italian wounds.
Italy coach Jaques Brunel has a lot of work to do ahead of the June internationals after Italy took the Wooden Spoon, having lost all five of their Championship matches. They play Fiji, Japan and Samoa in what will be a tricky summer series of matches for them.
"We started this tournament well and we finished negatively," said Brunel. "We're behind in terms of what our goals were."
UPDATE: Official extended highlights (7 mins long) are now included below
Posted at 5:35 pm | 41 comments
Friday, March 14, 2014
Irish legend Brian O'Driscoll plays his final Test match this weekend when Ireland take on France in Paris. To commemorate the occasion, and a fine career, adidas have put together this video that features top players from various countries giving their final thoughts on O'Driscoll.
Feel free to leave your thoughts on BOD in the comments below. Greatest Irish back ever?
Posted at 1:59 pm | 28 comments
The popular Plays of the Week from Fox Sports has changed format slightly, with the weekly installment now a thing of the past and instead, a monthly wrap-up can be expected. There will be other short bits too, which we'll share the best of on here.
For now, this is Rugby HQ's Plays of the Month for February, with Sean Maloney taking us through all the best, worst, funniest and most entertaining in Super Rugby since it kicked off.
You can browse our Plays of the Week section for more great moments from previous seasons
Posted at 11:39 am | 0 comments
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
England avenged last year's Cardiff defeat to Wales with a 29-18 victory at Twickenham on Saturday, ending the defending champions' chances of a third successive win, while putting themselves in contention for the Six Nations title.
England scored tries through Danny Care and Luther Burrell, and came close to a third late in the game, but the manner in which they played will have pleased fans the most.
Powerful up front, solid defence and attacking intent all combined to outplay Wales, who play Scotland next in what will be a bit of a dead rubber, but a chance to restore pride.
In this week's O2 Inside Line England fans get a look behind the scenes ahead of the clash with Italy, which is a must win fixture if they're to stand a chance of taking the title. They'll be hoping Ireland don't win against France, and they score plenty of points in Rome.
Player Analysis with Jack Nowell and Tom Johnson looks at some of the tries that were scored, and there's a focus on Italy's strengths, and talisman Sergio Parisse at the back of the scrum. They then voice-over Player Cam during the behind-the-scenes footage in the gym.
In team mates we hear from a number of players including Danny Care, Mike Brown, Joe Launchbury, Owen Farrell, Joe Marler and Chris Robshaw to find out who the funniest team mate is.
There's also an interesting look at team analysts Mike Hughes and Duncan Locke, who go through the ins and outs of all the video analysis that is available leading up to and during Test matches.
Italy vs England, Stadio Olimpico, Saturday 15 March 2014, 12.30pm GMT
UPDATE: England have selected an unchanged starting lineup for the match against Italy. There is one change on the bench, with Manu Tuilagi coming in for Alex Goode.
Italy team: TBC
15 Mike Brown, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Danny Care, 1 Joe Marler, 2 Dylan Hartley, 3 David Wilson, 4 Joe Launchbury, 5 Courtney Lawes, 6 Tom Wood, 7 Chris Robshaw, 8 Ben Morgan
Replacements 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 George Ford, 23 Manusamoa Tuilagi
Posted at 3:39 pm | 13 comments