Monday, July 27, 2015
The Wallabies defeated Argentina 34-9 in Mendoza on Saturday evening, ensuring a blockbuster Rugby Championship showdown against New Zealand in Sydney on Saturday 8 August, following the All Blacks' victory over South Africa.
In a physical and sometimes heated encounter, the Wallabies remained patient and surged home with three second-half tries after leading 8-6 at half time.
Australia will return home equal with New Zealand on nine points on top of The Rugby Championship ladder, with both the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship trophies to go on the line as the trans-Tasman rivals prepare for back-to-back clashes.
"We're very happy with the win. It's always hard to come over here and win. Obviously we slipped up last year over, here so tonight was very good and I’m very proud of the performance," said Wallabies captain Stephen Moore.
"It's going to be a massive game in Sydney at our home ground. We're really looking forward to that, we know that they are a quality side but we have two weeks to prepare.
The Wallabies could be without Michael Hooper following his off the ball indiscretion as Dean Mumm went over for a try. View the details of his citing for striking here.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Richie McCaw scored the winning try in his last ever international on South African soil, as New Zealand came from behind to claim a 27-20 victory in another classic, dramatic Test between the two great rivals at Ellis Park.
As with a week ago against Australia, the Springboks led for most of the match and looked on track for victory, but couldn't close out the game, thus ruining their chances of a Rugby Championship title.
They had the All Blacks on the ropes for a large portion of the match though, with Kiwi coach Steve Hansen commenting that he felt his side was lucky to have things square at 10-10 at the break. "We were very lucky to not be down 30 points, that's how well the Boks played," he said.
Debutant flyhalf Lima Sopoaga kicked three conversions and two penalties as Ben Smith and Dane Coles scored excellent tries for the visitors, before captain McCaw stepped up late in the game with a brilliant lineout variation. When asked about if they'd practiced it a lot during the week, McCaw confirmed it.
"We did. We actually had a debate whether it would be No 9 or myself. So I had to pull rank and say I will take that slot, so I was pretty happy it worked," McCaw said.
The home side have plenty to be positive about, with youngsters Jesse Kriel and Damian Da Allende both having top quality games, while Kriel scored his second try in two Tests, and acted as provider for Willie Le Roux's well taken try.
Injuries and replacements again proved problematic though, disrupting the flow of their game, while for New Zealand their players came on and slotted into the tempo of the match instantly, giving them the edge in the final ten, even after losing Sam Whitelock to the sinbin.
With senior players set to return and talented youngsters having been blooded, this campaign is not all doom and gloom for the Springboks, who were again led valiantly by inspirational Schalk Burger, who played at number eight in the absence of Duane Vermeulen.
"We are doing something right because we are putting teams under pressure," said the stand in South African captain. "We created a lot of opportunities, but we couldn't put them away."
The highlights are down currently but you can view the full match on page two of this post, and reaction from the All Blacks below. Highlights will replace this soon if possible
Friday, July 24, 2015
Tomorrow the Springboks host the All Blacks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, in what has been described by Sky Sports UK as a clash between the greatest two teams in the history of the sport. It's top ranked vs second ranked in week two of the condensed Rugby Championship.
Above is the promo video for tomorrow's match, a game that sees the two rivals face one another for the 90th time in Test rugby history. The Springboks won their last encounter in Johannesburg, when Pat Lambie slotted a last minute, 50m penalty kick winner.
Kickoff: 17:05 local time, 16:05 GMT
South Africa | Preview
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar (vice-captain), 8 Schalk Burger (captain), 7 Francois Louw, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lionel Mapoe
New Zealand | Preview
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Samuel Whitelock, 20 Victor Vito, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Malakai Fekitoa
Tongan prop Sona Taumalolo certainly stretched the boundaries of the law against Fiji last weekend. The former Chiefs prop, who now has grown out his hair and looks almost unrecognisable, attempted to fend a Fijian player, but appeared to do so with his fist.
The commentry team were shocked, as were onlookers in Suva, just minutes after Fiji had scored the sensational try that we saw here on RD yesterday. Taumalolo appeared frustrated, swinging out at the opposition from an almost standing start.
While hand-offs are legal and in fact a huge part of the game, this could easily have been called up for foul play, especially if he had connected. Law 10.4 (Dangerous Play and Misconduct) (a) states: Punching or striking. A player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee(s).
Some might say that if you slow it down, it was actually an open hand, in which case Law 10.4 (m) could also be applicable: Acts contrary to good sportsmanship. A player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship in the playing enclosure.
As it was, nobody got hurt and referee Chris Pollock missed it, or decided to let it go, so we'll categorise it as funny rather than dirty. Taumalolo was lucky though, so hopefully doesn't try that one again. View more of him in action in the Related Posts.
In the latest Referees Perspective feature from World Rugby, South African André Watson takes a look back at the 1999 Rugby World Cup final between Australia and France at the Millenium Stadium.
After their stunning semi-final victory over the All Blacks, where they fought back from 24-10 down at the break to triumph 43-31, France were full of confidence heading into their first final since the tournament's inception in 1987.
Australia, led by the mercurial John Eales, had just beaten South Africa in the second semi in a match notable for the first of only two drop goals of Stephen Larkham's career.
Watson admits that the responsibility of taking charge of his first and only World Cup final was a daunting prospect. "When the announcement came, I was as shocked and surprised as many of my colleagues. I only heard five days before that I was going to ref it."
"There are many clichés about it [refereeing the final], being nervousness, excitement. I just call it being bloody scared."
Australia went on to dominate the match in Cardiff, winning 35-12. Tries from Owen Finnegan and Ben Tune helped the Wallabies secure their second Rugby World Cup tournament victory, having tasted success in 1991.
Despite the commanding scoreline, Watson is adamant that the French played as hard as they had done against New Zealand, a match that was labelled by critics as 'their final'.
"People said that France played their final the weekend before when they beat the All Blacks. But I think the French gave it everything. They were going at each other hammer and tong."
On a side note, outspoken Watson was actually recently dismissed from his position as head of referees in South Africa, after 24 SARU (South African Rugby Union) officials signed a list of grievances against him, reported to be related to the way he interacted with colleagues.
His appeal against that dismissal was unsuccessful.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Powerfully built Fijian centre Levani Botia created this excellent try against Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup in Suva at the weekend. His barnstorming run, and subsequent quality play with Waisea Nayacalevu, led to a well taken try by Henry Seniloli.
Hale T-Pole and Taniela Moa, who made the kick that didn't find touch, were no match for his strong run, which played a part in Fiji's 30-22 victory in the opening round of the tournament.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Nick Cummins has been in the USA this week to promote the Wallabies fixture against the USA Eagles in Chicago on September 5th. This live TV interview didn't go all to plan, as the host introduced Cummins as the Honey Bear, rather than the fierce Honey Badger.
"Nick Cummins, aka the Honey Bear, one of the best nicknames in all of sports," he said.
Cummins and scrumhalf Nic White laughed it off and rather than correct the mistake, they waited until the reporter realised himself, a little later on in the interview. They were also asked to show off some moves, which they handled well despite being asked to 'do some Harlem Globetrotters for us'.
Cummins also took part in another chat a few days back, where he was up to his usual mischief, confusing hosts with his Auslingo, and bouncing around like a Kangaroo.
Cummins and White have been recalled to the Wallabies squad for the upcoming Test against Argentina, slotting in as injury replacements for Rob Horne and Will Genia.
You can view the full Honey Bear interview on page two