Saturday, November 29, 2014
League convert Sam Burgess made his highly anticipated Rugby Union debut in last nights 25-6 Bath win over Harlequins at the Rec. It was a short cameo, playing at centre, but showed glimpses of what he could be capable of with ball in hand.
Just seven weeks ago he was playing rugby league, winning the NRL Grand Final after breaking his cheekbone in the first minute. Now he's a rugby union player, and one that has the whole of England, and indeed fans around the world, watching on closely.
His debut came in quite bizarre circumstances, as Harlequins were down to just 12 players after referee Wayne Barnes brandished three yellow cards. It was also raining so the conditions weren't ideal, but post match he had a smile ear to ear, seemingly loving every minute of it.
"I've been mixing it up in training but I think I'll stay at centre for now, certainly over the next few games," said the 25-year-old when asked about what position he'll likely play in.
"But we've got a lot of time. It's certainly not an overnight transition and the worst thing we could do is rush it. It was always going to be hard but I've really enjoyed it and everyone's been open to teaching me things.
"The game's tough to learn and I was sat on the bench a little bit nervous. I haven't felt that for a while but I enjoyed the feeling and the adrenalin and once you get on the field you just enjoy the game," said the former league star who was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal a few weeks back.
He came on in the midfield last night, but Bath coach Mike Ford wants to try him in the forwards.
"The two carries he had were very, very good. He needs to get out there and play and when the pressure's on that will accelerate his learning," Ford said.
"There's a plan there and Sam's first few games are going to come at 12, but when it's dry we're going to have a look at him in the back row as well. Personally, I think that will suit Sam personally more.
"It's a gut feeling of mine as he's a guy who carries and tackles a lot and I don't want to stick him out in the centre to do nothing. That's not his skill set. Can we get him over the gain line with six, seven or eight on his back? Of course we can and the next month or so we'll know where he is.
"My vision is for Sam to be a barnstorming back row and we'll see how it unfolds, it'll be a good journey," Ford, whose son George starts for England at flyhalf today, added.
It's been debated before, but after seeing a bit of him in action and hearing what both he and coach Ford have to say, where do you think Burgess would be best suited?
Posted at 11:26 am | 20 comments
Friday, November 28, 2014
We're giving away 5 copies of the brand new Rugby Union Team Manager 2015, the most comprehensive rugby management game ever created. Learn more about it below, watch the video and enter now to stand a chance of winning.
Fans have been asking about a quality Rugby Union manager game for years, so with Alternative Software's latest release, rugby gurus now get the chance to immerse themselves in the dynamic world of Rugby management, allowing the player to battle their way through season after season; securing success both on and off the field.
Pleasing the fans and the star players whilst maintaining the backing of the boardroom, you will be in complete control. Rugby Union Team Manager 2015 delivers the most comprehensive rugby simulation ever produced, with the biggest licensed competitions from across the world, over 14,500 players and over 320 playable teams.
Always keeping you in complete control, Rugby Union Team Manager 2015, not only puts you in charge of the team, but an entire club, from youth development through to the first team, the players, coaches, physios, scouts and doctors – you’re in charge.
Each of the plentiful club facilities are upgradable allowing you to expand on training and tactics that make a great team, and when match day comes, watch all the action unfold in the bespoke 2D and 3D engines, giving instructions in real-time to turn the tide of a match.
The game has been in development for the past 2 years, and has been developed, from the ground up by Rugby fans for Rugby fans.
The release date is December 3rd, while the French version will be released around the 16th December. It will be available via several retailers, including as a digital download via Steam.
View more game and purchase information on the official Rugby Union Team Manager website
ENTER TO WIN ONE OF FIVE COPIES:
How many officially licensed teams are there in Rugby Union Team Manager 2015?
Send an email to email@example.com with the answer
The closing date for entries is midnight, Sunday 14th December 2014. Winners will be contacted via email
Posted at 2:00 pm | 6 comments
Thursday, November 27, 2014
This is a lovely bit of action from the World Sevens Series last season, as young Portuguese player João Bello owned up to something that he could so easily have got away with. It's a short clip but it's worth seeing this display of great sportsmanship.
At 17-0 down against Fiji, Portugal needed every inch they could get to try to make it back into the game. They got their chance in the second half, as Fiji had a man yellow carded for throwing the ball away. In 7's, playing against a team a man down is naturally a massive advantage.
South African referee Rasta Rasivhenge assumed it was one of the Fijians, but just as the innocent player was leaving the field - clearly unhappy but abiding to the refs instructions - 19 year old Bello stepped forward to explain to Rasivhenge that it was actually him who did it, not the Fijian player.
You can actually see that his instincts told him to try to get Rasivhenge's attention straight away.
The referee apologised, and thanked Bello, who did this on his Sevens Series debut, with all the odds against his side who could have certainly benefited from playing seven vs six.
It's a truly refreshing moment and one that is all too rare in the competitive world of professional sport these days. This is clearly a great example of what the values of rugby are all about.
credit: Federação Portuguesa de Rugby
Posted at 1:21 pm | 26 comments
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
It's the debate that's raged on for some time now, and while some feel that by choosing to play abroad Steffon Armitage has made his intentions clear, this intimate chat with Martin Bayfield should bring further clarity to the issue.
England coach Stuart Lancaster has said that he will only choose players based outside of England in exceptional circumstances. He's had ample opportunity to use that clause to his team's benefit, but hasn't, instead opting for locally based players, snubbing the 2014 European Player of the Year.
Armitage explains to Rugby Tonight's Bayfield that the paths he's chosen haven't been taken lightly. He and his family spent many years outside of England, and he is fluent in French. It's in his blood.
"I've spent most of my life there. I went to school there. I'm fluent in French. I started playing in Nice at the age of 10. It's still a big part of me," he said.
When asked the all important question, he doesn't skirt around the subject.
"I still want to play for my country. I'm ready. If they want me to play, I'll be there."
He explains that he wanted to head back to the UK and give things a go for the Rugby World Cup, with a proposed move to Bath. That didn't work out for one reason or another, so he's made the best of life at double champions Toulon, where he believes he's played the best rugby of his career.
While it's not the route that the current RFU or England Rugby regime have approved of, Armitage's form has been such that fans have called for his selection, where perhaps now more than ever he could make a big difference to the side, just a year out from the World Cup.
credit: Bt Sport/Rugby Tonight
Posted at 1:18 pm | 17 comments
Monday, November 24, 2014
Sky TV have put together a list of 10 nominations for the very best tries scored in New Zealand domestic and international rugby in the last 12 months. Fans have until Wednesday this week to vote for the single try they think is best.
*EDIT 11 Dec 2014: Malakai Fekitoa has been named as the winner. View all the tries below
The Sky Fans Try of the Year will be revealed at the annual Steinlager Rugby Awards in Auckland on Thursday 11 December. The most popular try will be unveiled along with a host of other awards, all celebrating great achievements in rugby.
Last week we saw the IRPA Try of the Year 2014 nominations, for the best Test rugby tries scored over the course of the last year. The shortlist didn't include any All Black tries, so here is a nice chance for New Zealand fans to take a look at some of their great tries in the last year.
Sky's panel of experts, along with New Zealand Rugby, have selected 10 fantastic efforts to choose from, covering Super Rugby, the ITM Cup, Tests, and a Women's Rugby candidate too.
"It's been another year of heart stopping rugby across all competitions, showcasing the depth and breadth of our game," said Neil Sorensen New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby.
"The fantastic thing about rugby in New Zealand is that everyone has an opinion. Giving fans a chance to debate the best try of the year is a great way for them to have their say when we celebrate rugby's successes at the Steinlager Rugby Awards."
Gareth Anscombe, Bulls v Chiefs | Beauden Barrett, Highlanders v Hurricanes | Ryan Crotty, Ireland v All Blacks | Malakai Fekitoa, Sharks v Highlanders | Fa'asiu Fuatai, Otago v North Harbour | Honey Hireme, Waikato v Canterbury | Alapati Leiua, Crusaders v Hurricanes | Tino Nemani, Bay of Plenty v Tasman | Julian Savea, All Blacks v England, Waikato Stadium | Ben Smith, All Blacks v England, Eden Park
The following three tries have been selected as the most popular:
Beauden Barrett; Hurricanes v Highlanders
Malakai Fekitoa; Sharks v Highlanders
Alapati Leiua; Crusaders v Hurricanes
The winner will be announced at the Steinlager Rugby Awards on 11 December 2014
UPDATE 11/12/2014: Malakai Fekitoa has been awarded Try of the Year
Posted at 12:45 pm | 14 comments
Sunday, November 23, 2014
We were treated to a great day of Test match rugby yesterday, with some thrilling games and top quality tries. After leading 17-0 then trailing 20-17, Ireland beat the Wallabies in what was probably the game of the day. Argentina also picked up a great win, with victory over France in Paris.
Wales looked like they were about to spring an upset over New Zealand when they led 16-15 with ten minutes left, but the All Blacks stepped up a gear to win 34-16.
England and Samoa battled it out at Twickenham after a controversial week for the visitors. The scrappy match ended with a home win and a great gesture, as both sides linked arms, formed a huddle and had a quiet moment, saying a prayer and showing great solidarity (see below).
Romania 18 - 9 Canada | Portugal 29 - 20 Namibia | Fiji 20 - 14 USA
England 28 - 9 Samoa | France 13 - 18 Argentina | Ireland 26 - 23 Australia
Italy 6 - 22 South Africa | Scotland 37 - 12 Tonga | Wales 16 - 34 New Zealand
More from each game to follow over the next few days. Do you think Ireland are now genuine Rugby World Cup contenders? Have Wales made progress, or were the All Blacks always in control? Are Argentina looking a more complete outfit? Discuss, dissect etc in the comments below.
Posted at 9:24 am | 44 comments
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Teddy Thomas scored one of the tries of the weekend against Australia, but after a dream start to his Test career, has since been dropped by coach Philippe Saint-Andre for missing a training session. Here is a look at that great try from last weekend.
Thomas scored four tries in two Tests, including a hat-trick on debut, but Saint Andre has made a stand against ill-discipline by dropping the rising star for their match against Argentina.
The 21-year-old Racing Metro flyer arrived two hours late for training at the French national training centre outside Paris on Wednesday evening. So Maxime Medard was called up in his place.
"In the France group there are rules that everyone should respect," Saint-Andre said.
"Teddy, who we love a lot, has forgotten these. When you play in the France team you have to be beyond reproach and respectful on and off the field. I had a meeting yesterday (Wednesday) with Teddy and he understands. I’m sure it will make him grow up," the former France winger added.
Thomas was incredibly remorseful, no doubt shocked, and took to his Facebook page to apologise.
"The rules of the France group shouldn’t be broken and I want to offer my sincerest apologies to the staff and the France team, to my teammates, to all the Bleus fans and our sport," he said.
"I also want to clarify, not by way of justification, that it was my fault and although it should be punished, it was in no way a question of insolent or arrogant behaviour."
Serge Blanco, vice-president of the French rugby federation, said that while nobody has died, this is about the respect that should exist within the group - when given a time, you should remember it.
"It shows that in the France group nobody is indispensable. He will serve as an example for everyone," the legendary French fullback explained.
France play Argentina this weekend, following a 40-15 win over Fiji, and 29-26 win over Australia.
Earlier this week we saw the five contenders for Try of the Year, which included one from the Autumn Internationals. Some asked why Thomas' wasn't included, so here is another look at it.
Posted at 11:02 am | 5 comments