Monday, June 01, 2015
Saracens proved victorious in this year's Aviva Premiership final as the London based side put on a dominant display to beat a Bath, who cruised to victory in their semi-final against Leicester, 28-16 at Twickenham.
Last years losing finalists and former 2011 champions showed their strength and power with three unanswered tries through Owen Farrell, Jamie George and Chris Wyles.
Saracens in fact led 25-3 at half-time, then survived a second-half revival from Bath, after a try from Jonathan Joseph and eight points from the boot of George Ford.
The victory for Saracens is the first time a club outside of the top two in the table has won the competition, a victory that came in Saracens' fourth final in six seasons.
Director of rugby Mark McCall was delighted with his sides victory saying that "To perform the way we did in the first half was exceptional and Bath were always going to come back in the second half and they showed what they were capable of, but we hung in there and are absolutely thrilled to win"
Bath on the other hand, find themselves still searching for their first title win since 1996, a now 19 year wait. Despite losing, Bath captain Stuart Hooper remained positive stating "It's hugely disappointing but we need to make sure that we realise that it was not a wasted year. We worked hard and got to this point but we didn't really do ourselves justice today."
The game also brought with it a moment of controversy surrounding two of England's stars, Owen Farrell and Anthony Watson. Farrell committed a high tackle on Watson early in the first half and ended Watson's final prematurely.
The tackle went unpunished at the time and Farrell went on to inspire Saracens victory taking home the Man of the Match award. The tackle drew heavy criticism from Bath head coach Mike Ford who after the game said that he believed Farrell should have been sent off.
Farrell has since been given a Citing Commissioner Warning (Level 1 Citing), which means that the incident was viewed as greater than a yellow card, but doesn't quite meet a red card. The penalty is the equivalent to a post-match foul play yellow card, three of which would result in the player being subject to a disciplinary.
It was a fully deserved win for Saracens after a scintillating first half of rugby and a superb response to their extra time defeat against Northampton last year.
Melbourne Rebels prop Laurie Weeks has been banned for three weeks following a red card for multiple punches on Sharks tighthead Jannie du Plessis at the weekend. While Du Plessis struck first, Weeks' retaliation and flurry of punches is what got him sent off.
As both tightheads 'chased' a high ball in the first half, Weeks appeared to obstruct Du Plessis which obviously frustrated the veteran Springbok. He lashed out with a meaty slap to the back of the head, leading Weeks to turn and start swinging.
Du Plessis did well to refrain from throwing punches himself, as Weeks threw roughly six shots, most of which landed. The doctor was yellow carded, while Weeks received a straight red.
Both players were surprised with the calls, with Du Plessis calling his shot 'a push', and Weeks obviously feeling that his reaction was justified after being struck pretty hard on the back of the head. His reaction did him no favours though.
Discipline has never been Du Plessis' strongpoint, and he actually did something similar against the Hurricanes in 2012, with an open-hand slap that started a brawl.
SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden accepted a guilty please from Weeks, and he has been suspended from all forms of the game for three weeks up to and including 20 June 2015.
"I found the incident to have a mid-range entry point which stipulates a five-week suspension. This was then reduced by two weeks due to Weeks' prompt admission of guilt, remorse for his actions and excellent disciplinary record.
"The applicable entry point for determining the seriousness of the offence was determined by the excessive overreaction of multiple strikes by the player when compared to the act that initially provoked him to commit the offence," Casselden added.
Rebels skipper Scott Higginbotham scored a brace of tries, but the tourists went down 25-21.
*NOTE: This post went live before the ruling, so has since been updated
Sunday, May 31, 2015
The Barbarians edged Ireland 22-21 in a non-cap international at Thomond Park on Thursday evening, with Wales winger Alex Cuthbert grabbing a brace as the invitational side claimed a win over Ireland by one point for the third time in succession.
Leinster's South African fullback Zane Kirchner scored an excellent try for the Barbarians, while Craig Gilroy, Chris Henry and Paddy Jackson scored for Ireland.
While it wasn't a full strength Ireland XV, they have only beaten the Barbarians once in six occasions since 1996, with the victory coming at Kingsholm in 2008. They lost 29-28 three years back, and 31-30 in 2000.
Today the Barbarians played England at Twickenham, but were pumped 73-11, as flyhalf Danny Cipriani scored two tries and kicked 11 from 11, while Christian Wade scored a hat-trick. More from that match soon.
Glasgow Warriors created history last night as they became the first Scottish club to win the Guinness PRO12 with a convincing 31-13 victory over Munster in Belfast.
After finishing the regular season at the top of the table, Gregor Townsend's men showed just why they are the best team the league with a spectacular first half performance, virtually putting the game to rest with three fantastic tries.
At the forefront of most things good for the Scots, was Fijian second row Leone Nakarawa. The 6ft4 giant used his famous offloads to excellent effect as he orchestrated the first two tries, for Rob Harley and DTH van der Merwe respectively.
Despite Nakarawa's deserving man of the match title, scrum-half Henry Pyrgos controlled the game superbly from the start, and his third try after half an hour - latching onto a pass from a sumptuous break from Stuart Hogg - virtually ruled out any chance of a full Munster comeback.
Glasgow dominated Munster for the majority of the match and kept up their intensity despite the worseneing weather conditions. The Munstermen didn't relent however and struck back with a fine effort from centre Andrew Smith on the brink of half-time.
They should have bagged a second after the break but Glasgow just never looked like a side ready to give up on making history. Sublime defensive efforts prevented a further score as they held up Paul O'Connell over the line.
This proved a crucial turning point as the momentum swung back to Glasgow entering the final 20 minutes. And with it came Munster's capitulation as Finn Russell finished a prolonged period of pressure on the Irish line to score the fourth try, and all but seal the title.
A long range Duncan Weir penalty seven minutes from the end took them past 30 points in a commanding and emphatic victory.
Arguably one of the best moments in Scottish rugby in the professional era, Glasgow now combined sheer exaltation with an equal sense of releif as they became the first Scottish club side to ever win a major trophy.
And head coach Gregor Townsend is convinced there is more to come.
Speaking to BBC Scotland after the match, Townsend said, "We will be a much better team for having won."
"Jonny Gray is 21, Finn Russell 22, Stuart Hogg is 22. These players have committed to staying at the club and they have seen they can win trophies."
And he added: "There's a lot more to come from this group of players and they have now had the experience of winning something, which is fantastic."
Viw match highlights below, with some of the Glasgow celebrations on page two
Friday, May 29, 2015
Yoann Huget could find himself in trouble after footage emerged of what appears to be the Toulouse winger stamping on Bordeaux Begles lock Jan Andre Marais' head/face.
The incident occurred 18 minutes into Saturday's Top 14 clash between the two sides.
Huget appears to lash out with his foot at Marais but it is unclear whether it was intentional or not, with the fullback checking on the lock and genuinely showing some concern for the player.
The commentators did not react and neither do players from either team, but it does happen just to the edge of camera shot. No replays were shown, and as yet there has been no sign of a citing or further repercussions, so one can only assume it was viewed as purely accidental.
Toulouse prop Census Johnston received a straight red card in the first half of the game for punching Metuisela Talebula. View the punches here
The Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) ban guidelines state that a low offence can carry a ban of two weeks, while a high end offence can carry a ban of nine. The maximum offence that can be given - but only in extremely rare, severe circumstances – is 52 weeks.
Huget went on to score the momentum-changing try, with Toulouse running in eventual 23-22 winners after finding themselves 15-9 down with 20 minutes left to play.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Rugby HQ's Sean Maloney gives us the run down on some of the more bizarre bits of play that took place in the world of rugby last weekend. This is the latest edition, round 16, and you can also view last week's video, round 15, on page two of this post.
This week's wrapup is loads of fun, with a few things that you definitely wouldn't want to happen to you. First up there is one of the most lethal looking falcons ever, as a player charges down a clearing kick, with his face. It looks pretty bad, but we're assured he's okay. Moving on.
Hurricanes forward Blade Thomson did little to raise the bar as he celebrated by slapping himself in the face, while referee Marius van der Westhuizen got pushed around in the Waratahs vs Crusaders game. And we get to see the same happen to Stu Dickinson.
Finally, there's a quick look at a lovely try from the Australian Women's 7s side.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
The Aviva Premiership Final is fast approaching as fans gear up for an epic showcase, as Saracens edged Northampton and Bath ran riot in Leicester in the semi finals. Today we're letting you know about a way to get your hands on tickets for the big day at Twickenham.
StubHub UK are giving fans a chance to be at the game, which promises to be a fascinating battle between the flair of Bath's talented backs, and the power Saracens have shown up front. Fill out your details here for a chance to witness the season finale.
With all to play for at a packed house, make sure you don’t miss out on what is sure to a classic final. Follow the link then hit the day to enter to win a pair of tickets for the final.