Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Saracens beat Bath 23-10 in a Round 16 Aviva Premiership game at the weekend. Bath lock Dave Attwood made a huge tackle in the first half, then followed it up with another strong hit seconds later. The tackles are below, with official highlights on page two.
Attwood is part of the England squad that met up last night to prepare for Sunday's Six Nations match against Wales. His performance against Saracens wouldn't have hurt his cause at all, as the kind of heart he showed is exactly what coach Stuart Lancaster would be looking for.
The 26-year-old former Gloucester second rower tweeted after the match that his body was very sore, and after seeing the way he threw it about, it's easy to understand why.
In the first tackle we see him driving back lock Steve Borthwick, who himself is a big lump of a man. Attwood physically dominates him then with the adrenalin pumping, flies into prop Mako Vunipola less than a minute later.
The second tackle wasn't as technically sound as the first (even if his head may have started on the wrong side), but for showing little regard for his own body, it's just as impressive.
The England team to face Wales will be named later this week so it'll be interesting to see if he gets a look in. If he does, we're sure to see more of that level of intensity very soon.
As mentioned above, you can view official highlights from the match on page two
Posted at 10:41 am | 23 comments
Monday, March 03, 2014
The Melbourne Rebels got their Super Rugby season off to a flying start with a 35-14 bonus point win over the Cheetahs. The five try victory came about through some great leadership, and play, from Wallaby Scott Higginbotham.
The win was their biggest in Super Rugby to date, and on the back of strong preseason victories, they're in confident mood and will continue to put bums on seats in Melbourne. It was also their first win in four encounters with the Bloemfontein based side, who last year made the playoffs.
Despite losing the likes of James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale, the Rebels have tightened up aspects of their game that let them down in the past, particularly defence, and in Higginbotham have a genuine leader.
"Higginbotham was quite outstanding in terms of how he was so instrumental in terms of leading by example," said former Auckland Blues Super Rugby winner Sean Fitzpatrick. "He has been crucial in terms of the team culture and what it takes to be successful."
The 23-times capped Wallaby set up a Jason Woodward try in the corner through some excellent quick thinking, and a decent amount of skill and confidence too. His crosskick from a quick tap penalty was perfectly placed, and possibly only outdone by the way the match finished.
The final try was scrappy but it came from a deep counter attack and after going through a number of hands, found the big number eight out on the wing, who opted for a sprint, goose step and fend before diving in at the corner and dotting down with one hand.
"Scott Higginbotham's try was excellent. He really got stuck in and inspired his players - they never let up and even when the Cheetahs came back in the second half, he rallied his players to close them down," said former Wallaby flyhalf Michael Lynagh.
"A great performance from him. He made a lot of good decisions with and without the ball."
It was two great pieces of play by a hefty number eight, so worth sharing in the video below.
Posted at 3:25 pm | 24 comments
Sunday, March 02, 2014
Rugby is often played in poor weather conditions in the northern hemisphere, so sometimes the elements come together to affect the game rather dramatically, like when this conversion kick was mysteriously blown in at the last moment recently.
James Wilson scored a try for Northampton Saints against Newcastle Falcons in the Aviva Premiership, and while flyhalf Stephen Myler needed some help with holding the ball up for the conversion, nobody will have expected to see it sail through in the way that it did.
It's not the first time something like this has happened, so if you browse through the Related Posts below you'll see some of the others. One of the most memorable was when Rotherham beat Doncaster in extra time with a dramatic wonder kick two years ago.
A few years earlier Dan Carter kicked a now famous freak conversion that swerved in as the Crusaders flyhalf casually jogged off, as if it was planned that way all along.
Just a few months back a London Irish restart was blown backwards, but even that wasn't as incredible as what happened in New Zealand in October last year, when a restart kick was blown all the way back over their own dead ball line.
Of course on this occasion Myler is entitled to take the credit, and he probably was fully in control of what happened, or maybe he just has some higher powers we weren't aware of until now.
Posted at 7:45 pm | 4 comments
Friday, February 28, 2014
Last weekend Georgia and Romania secured their places at Rugby World Cup 2015 following victories in the FIRA-AER European Nations Cup Division 1A. Georgia beat Russia 36-10 in front of over 50 000 fans in Tbilisi, while Romania beat Spain 32-6.
The team that finishes top of the ENC table will secure the prestigious Europe 1 place at England 2015, joining New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Africa 1 in Pool C.
Romania and Georgia have an unassailable lead in the competion, which doubles as RWC qualification. The runner up will join Pool D with France, Ireland, Italy and Canada.
The two teams face off in Tbilisi on March 15th to decide Europe 1 and 2.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset was present to witness the great occasion in Tbilisi.
"The European process has been a highlight of the Rugby World Cup qualification process delivering some incredibly competitive and compelling matches," said Lapasset.
"On behalf of the IRB I would like to congratulate both Georgia on Romania for booking their places at England 2015 where they will showcase the best of European international Rugby. The scene is now set for a fascinating contest in Tbilisi where the coveted Europe 1 place looks to be decided."
EXTRA: View both full matches on page two of this post
The IRB will be providing a live stream of the decisive match in Tbilisi on rugbyworldcup.com
Posted at 12:40 pm | 32 comments
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Here's a quick video that includes a must see super slow-mo of a pretty nasty off the ball shot by Chiefs prop Jamie Mackintosh. The hit is on the indestructible man, Richie McCaw, who was left on the floor in a heap and must have been wondering how Mackintosh stayed on the field.
It didn't look like much at first but the excellent camera work and slow-mo replays show the shoulder making contact with first the chest, then McCaw's somewhat distorted face.
You can view more big shots featuring Mackintosh and McCaw in the Related Posts below
Posted at 6:02 pm | 42 comments
Clermont scrumhalf Morgan Parra has been suspended for two weeks for head-butting Montpellier's Rene Ranger in their Top 14 clash at the weekend. He has only just been called into the France squad, but will miss their next match, against Scotland.
In what was a strange sequence of play, Parra took a quick tap penalty behind the referees back after Montpellier infringed at a ruck. Ranger, who had his back turned, caught what was happening in the corner of his eye so casually inserted his gumguard, then smashed the fiesty Frenchman.
Ranger clearly wasn't ten meters away so while Parra had a right to be less than pleased, his way of dealing with it - by charging with his head - is what got him in trouble.
A yellow card for Ranger followed, before a shocked home crowd watched as referee Sébastien Minery showed Parra red, leaving Clermont with just 14 men for the rest of the match.
"I feel deep frustration and anger over the red card for Morgan Parra," said Clermont's Kiwi coach, Vern Cotter. "I hope that at the disciplinary hearing there will be reasonable and intelligent people who will see it was not deserved."
The LNR (Top 14's governing body) ruled that Parra is suspended for two consecutive matches on the grounds of 'excitability'. Parra and Clermont have opted not to appeal the decision.
He will miss their match against Bordeaux-Begles, and then France's clash with Scotland on the 8th March. He will however be available to face Ireland at the Stade De France a week later.
Despite being a man down, Montpellier's Francois Trinh-Duc was yellow carded shortly before Ranger returned, giving Clermont a lifeline that they duly accepted, and went on to win 42-16. That takes their Stade Marcel Michelin record to 73 matches in a row unbeaten, dating back to 2009.
Posted at 11:32 am | 47 comments
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
We've seen that over the years referee Wayne Barnes is one that isn't to be messed with on the field. He's usually a strong disciplinarian and is capable of handling even the toughest rugby players out there. He's no pushover physically either, apparently.
Poor Saracens hooker Schalk Brits found out the hard way after coming face to face with the English referee, and coming off well and truly second best.
An overthrown lineout resulted in loose ball and Barnes and Brits both running in different directions, but in the same path. The Barnes bodycheck prevailed, with Brits tumbling to the floor.
"I am not going to hear the end of this, I guess. thanks #refcam," Brits said on Twitter, before following up with: "I had the worst 40 min of my life. got owned by a winger twice and then by Barnes! #disgrace"
Ref Cam, which some fans still aren't mad about, probably just went up a notch in terms of popularity, and it's safe to say that Barnes loved every minute of it.
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Posted at 1:20 pm | 6 comments