Saturday, February 01, 2014
Defending Six Nations champions Wales weren't as convincing as they would have liked to be but managed to hold off a determined Italy side in Cardiff, winning 23-15 after leading 17-3 at halftime thanks to tries by Alex Cuthbert and Scott Williams.
Young Italian back Michele Campagnaro had a fantastic game for the visitors, scoring two tries which resulted in his Man of the Match award despite being on the losing side.
Wales are after a third consecutive Six Nations title but will need to lift the standards again when they travel to Dublin to face Ireland next weekend.
"I thought we were positive in terms of our attacking play but Italy were dogged and competed pretty hard all game," Wales coach Warren Gatland said post match.
"Defensively I thought our structure was pretty good. Italy made it tough for us.
"I think in the past when we have come under pressure like that we might not have had the composure to finish it off but we did today. We're champions and every team is going to come at us and make it tough."
As Italy threatened to get back into the match, Leigh Halfpenny's boot kept the hosts out in front.
*Extended official highlights have now been added below
What were your thoughts on the match?
Posted at 4:31 pm | 14 comments
Friday, January 31, 2014
We've dragged things out a bit but today you can watch the final episode of the 2013 School of Hard Knocks, which follows a group of youngsters from Glasgow in their quest for self-improvement, a better understanding of the game of rugby, and employment.
It was another brilliant series, perhaps one of the best and another great example of how the values shared and lessons learned in rugby can be applied to everyday life.
"Rugby's a lot like life - you've got to keep going forward, going through it, standing your ground and fighting for things," said one of the newcomers to the sport in the intro.
In this, the finale, the boys come together after eight weeks of hard work and preparation for their final match. Perhaps more importantly, they also go to the jobs fair where they set out to impress and ultimately find new employment.
Scott Quinnell, Will Greenwood and coach Chris Chudleigh are at their inspirational best, providing us with another emotional episode, while Scotland lock Ali Kellock is never too far away.
If you enjoyed the series please share with your friends, and also let us know below. Once again, it's not only a great rugby show, but one of the better pieces of reality TV out there (view Related Posts for previous episodes). All credit to Sky Sports who produced and put together the show.
Posted at 2:11 pm | 4 comments
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Alex Payne and O2 Inside Line are back to look ahead to the start of the Six Nations with France vs England on Saturday. Both teams have now named their teams, which include uncapped players for both sides, including at flyhalf for France.*
England included youngsters George Ford, Jack Nowell, Luther Burrell and Anthony Watson in their squad, who according to coach Stuart Lancaster, have impressed at club level and in training.
"We are excited about the players we are taking to Paris and what a great place to open our RBS 6 Nations campaign against a French team who will be massively motivated, especially after the last two games between us," Lancaster said.
In this week's O2 Inside Line fans get an exclusive look into life in the England camp, with Dylan Hartley and Brad Barritt starting off with their Player Analysis and their views on the French team.
Some of the funniest things to happen on a rugby pitch are then discussed, we see some of the team training and then operations manager Tom Stokes runs through what his job entails.
*Updated: Both teams have now been named
Mike Brown, Jack Nowell, Luther Burrell, Billy Twelvetrees, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Danny Care, Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw, Billy Vunipola Replacements Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Henry Thomas, Dave Attwood, Ben Morgan, Lee Dickson, Brad Barritt, Alex Goode
Brice Dulin, Yoann Huget, Mathieu Bastareaud, Wesley Fofana, Maxime Medard, Jules Plisson, Jean-Marc Doussain, Thomas Domingo, Benjamin Kayser, Nicolas Mas, Alexandre Flanquart, Pascal Pape, Yannick Nyanga, Bernard Le Roux, Louis Picamoles
Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski, Yannick Forestier, Rabah Slimani, Yoann Maestri, Antoie Burban, Damien Chouly, Maxime Machenaud, Gael Fickou
What are you predictions for France vs England this weekend? (Sat, 18:00 Paris time)
Posted at 5:14 pm | 7 comments
Namibian flanker Jacques Burger is one of the Aviva Premiership's top tacklers. He was one of the more physical Saracens players against the Sharks at the weekend, where he made a few big hits. He's managed to combine his physical attributes with solid technique, as well as a fearless mindset.
In November he set a new record for tackles in a Premiership match, 36, breaking the previous milestone of 27 set by former England and Leicester Tigers flanker Lewis Moody.
In this amusing and informative masterclass video from Rugby Tonight he shows us how he does it.
Posted at 1:58 pm | 16 comments
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Quick video from London Wasps featuring some impressive stepping from Will Helu against the Exeter Chiefs recently. It very nearly resulted in a try too. Clip courtesy of @WaspsRugby
Posted at 3:37 pm | 2 comments
The England Saxons came within inches of possibly snatching victory from the Ireland Wolfhounds but it wasn't to be as the Irish scored two first half tries to one and prevailed 14-8 in Gloucester on Saturday.
Leinster halfback pairing Isaac Boss and Ian Madigan crossed in the first half, while England's try came from a Wolfhound mistake, and was snapped up well by young Anthony Watson.
Elliot Daly came within inches of scoring a late try, before Freddie Burns dived over without the ball.
Saxons coach Jon Callard was pleased with the overall effort despite his team not sneaking the win.
"We had four great opportunities in the second half, four great opportunities, from sustained pressure. It's a credit to the lads that when Ireland turned it over and kicked it down our throats, Rob Miller set off on a counter attack and we were a whisker away from winning it.
"I think potentially out of this group there are numerous options to go forward into the full squad, whether that will happen next week, across the course of the Six Nations or the summer tour, I can't say," added Callard.
Ireland Wolfhounds coach Anthony Foley meanwhile said they were relieved to hold off the Saxons.
"We had to hang in there towards the end, but it's a credit to the players that they did," he said. "They just stuck at it in fairness to them, right until the end. They knew the week's work was on the line, and they didn't let it go to waste."
Who do you think should make an appearance in their respective senior side this Six Nations?
Posted at 8:32 am | 12 comments
Monday, January 27, 2014
Saracens beat the Sharks 23-15 in Saturday's friendly Super Rugby warmup game for the Currie Cup champions. Both teams were extremely physical at Allianz Park, so here is one of the biggest hits of the game, plus a compilation of some of the others.
It was billed as a friendly but there was no love lost out there as both sides looked like they had something to prove, with cross-hemisphere rivalries coming to the fore, as well as a few old friends getting reaquainted. Saracens do have a decent South African contingent after all.
One of those is big lock Mouritz Botha, who seemed to enjoy the physical tussle with the big Sharks players. His heavyweight clash with wrecking-ball Jean Deysel was brutal, even if Deysel was sold by an unforgiving pass from his scrum half.
"I love it when big lads just run straight at you, and they had some really big, physical guys playing for them. It was just a great day and I really enjoyed myself out of there today," said Botha.
Both sides made impressive big tackles and charges, with Deysel and Willem Alberts particularly prominent. View a compilation of the rough stuff on page two of this post, the match highlights on page three and Botha's thumping tackle on Deysel below.
Should these type of fixtures be played more regularly?
Posted at 4:16 pm | 15 comments