Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Aaron Cruden has been through a lot in a very short time. In 2008 he was diagnosed with cancer, then just three years later was playing for the All Blacks in a Rugby World Cup Final. This video documents his story, and also gives you the chance to win lunch with him.
As we first featured four years ago, at just 19-years-old Cruden was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2008, throwing his world into turmoil. The promising flyhalf had to undergo surgery and intensive chemotherapy, putting a sudden halt on his burgeoning rugby career.
Through his positive attitude and the support of loved ones, he came out on top and actually captained the New Zealand under 20 side at their victorious 2009 Junior World Championship. He was later named IRB Junior Player of the Year, and since then his career has soared.
For a long time Dan Carter has been the driving force behind the All Blacks' backline play, and while it looked unlikely that he would ever be replaced, Cruden (and indeed Beauden Barrett) has stepped up to show that the World Champions lack nothing in attack - even when Carter is unavailable.
While many fans may not realise how Cruden got to where he is today, this new video from official partners AIG shows that not all journeys to the top are straight forward. It also serves to create awareness for testicular cancer and the importance of early detection.
AIG, Major Global Sponsor of the All Blacks, offers a Male Cancer Cover Plan that can provide financial help should you be diagnosed with a covered cancer. From as little as £1.99 per month, (£25,000 Standard cover for a man aged 18 to 49) you can be covered for 4 types of Male Cancers, including testicular and prostate cancer. To find out more click here
WIN! WATCH THE ALL BLACKS TRAIN IN LONDON
Please note: The Prize Draw has now ended. To view the list of Prizes, Draw Dates and Terms & Conditions visit www.aigdirect.co.uk/prizedraw.
Posted at 4:21 pm | 1 comments
The Sharks defeated Western Province in the showpiece of South African domestic rugby on Saturday, scoring two tries to one as they left Newlands with a 33-19 victory. Since the match, the Springbok squad for the tour of the UK and France has been chosen.
Western Province got the better of the two sides in last years' final in Durban, but this time around it was a reverse fixture and a far different result. The Sharks powered to the win with notable performances from young lock Pieter-Steph Du Toit and halfbacks Charl McLeod and Pat Lambie.
McLeod got an intercept try early in the game, and later on he crossed for another after an excellent build up and some quality ruck clearance by both forwards and backs. Lambie, while having missed a few kicks, kept the scoreboard ticking with two very well taken dropgoals.
"We knew that we needed to win the collisions and the easiest way to win the collisions is to get off the line aggressively. We did that well and put them under pressure," said Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson, who has Brendan Venter as part of his team, and John Smit as new CEO.
Young Du Toit has been rewarded with a Springbok call-up, as has flyer Gio Aplon, prop Frans Malherbe, hooker Scarra Ntubeni and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder.
The Springboks face Wales, Scotland and France on tour, starting in Cardiff on November 9th.
Below are highlights from the final, featuring all the tries, near misses and a few big hits
Posted at 2:41 pm | 9 comments
Brock James produced a piece of magic to set up a crucial try as Clermont survived a scare at the hands of Brive on Saturday, eventually coming out 36-29 victors. A late dash helped them extend their unbeaten home record at the Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin.
Brive were leading 26-23 with fifteen minutes left in one of the Top 14 games of the weekend.
Napolioni Nalaga had scored earlier in the contest but thanks to a piece of individual brilliance - or an incredibly lucky pass - he crossed for his second try with ten minutes left in the game. Replacement James, who made the wonder pass to free up the Fijian on the wing, then kicked them to victory.
The last time we saw this type of pass - almost a carbon copy in fact - was when Highlander Tamati Ellison did it against the Crusaders earlier this year. His reverse pass put Ben Smith away for a try, and was promptly called one of the greatest passes ever seen by commentator Scotty Stevenson.
This one is right up there, and in terms of significance in the match, was perhaps even better.
What was also impressive was that with such an apparent lack of control, and the nature of the flick, the ball didn't go forward at all so the legitimacy of the try was never in doubt.
Clermont are now second on the Top 14 table after ten rounds, two points behind leaders Toulouse.
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Posted at 7:51 am | 18 comments
Monday, October 28, 2013
Incredibly strong winds hit Ashburton on the South Island on Saturday, affecting the Meads Cup Final between Mid Canterbury and North Otago to the point that twenty minutes in, a restart kick got blown back 50m, well over the deal ball line.
North Otago's Ed Keohane had already seen the power of the gale-force northwesterly, but while he may have attempted to keep this restart low, mother nature had other ideas.
"Have they learned their lesson from the last kickoff that went into touch,'' remarked the commentator, before watching on in astonishment as the ball got swooped up and travelled all the way over the dead ball line, resulting in a scrum restart on halfway.
"I've never seen that. I have never seen that before, in 45 years of watching rugby," said fellow commentator and pundit, Richard 'Pod' Turner.
Perhaps the closest we've seen to this type of thing in the past is when in 2008, then Leinster flyhalf Felipe Contepomi's penalty was blown back, after it had already gone through the posts.
Mid Canterbury claimed it's first ever Meads Cup title with a 26-20 win over North Otago.
Posted at 10:32 am | 17 comments
Sunday, October 27, 2013
The Tasman Makos held off a comeback from Hawkes Bay to claim the ITM Cup Championship title, earning promotion to the 2014 Premiership. The 26-25 thriller was one of the matches of the weekend, eclipsing the main final for entertainment value.
Hawkes Bay started well as Ihaia West and Zac Guildford combined to silence the home crowd at Nelson's Trafalgar Park. Tasman soon levelled things up and looked in control at halftime, before a miraculous late try gave the visitors a final shot at glory.
Young West, whose fantastic play this season has earned him a call up with the Maori All Blacks, wasn't able to convert Chris Eaton's late try from the sideline as a thrilling match came to a close.
Earlier Marty Banks' intercept and 95m sprint had put the hosts in a great position, adding to his sensational season and growing reputation as a game changer.
While West had thrown the vital intercept - that resulted in 5 points for the opposition rather than 7 for his team - he had a chance to redeem himself at the death, but under unbelievable pressure his kick never looked like going over. It was a cruel finish for such a talented young player.
"I feel sorry for Ihaia because those things can either make you or break you, but he is quailty player so he will bounce back," said Tasman veteran Joe Wheeler post match.
It was a frantic finish to a match that exuded quality, with some outstanding ball handling, support play and on regular occasion, great defence. Tries were also scored by Bryce Heem and Liam Squire for the Makos, and the excellent Brendan O'Connor for the Magpies.
Posted at 3:06 pm | 5 comments
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The traditional Nude Blacks rugby challenge took place in Dunedin this past weekend, with the hosts taking on an invitational Australian side in a match watched by thousands at Alhambra Rugby Club, ahead of the All Blacks vs Wallabies Bledisloe Cup third Test.
Over 2000 students, rugby fans and curious onlookers turned out as a group of players wearing little more than their pride tackled the nude rugby game, which famously takes place in Dunedin each year.
The hosts won the match, although there was reportedly a disagreement over the final score, something to do with too many balls being dotted down over the tryline.
The match had everything from a Haka to big tackles, and the crowd loved every minute of it.
There were girls taking part too, although they were fully clothed, making their father's proud.
Amongst the innovations on the day was a new lineout call - the 'Tony Woodcock'.
Guest referee Scotty Stevenson called the shots, and reportedly penalised a player for illegally spooning. It's all fun and games until someone gets an eye poked out.
WARNING: There was a streaker at one stage in the match.
On a serious note, there are naked men running around in this video. If you find that offensive or innappropriate, do not watch. You can view a longer video though, if you so choose, here
Thanks to the Otago Daily Times
Posted at 3:12 pm | 22 comments
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Wellington made it through to their first domestic final in four years after beating Counties Manukau 41-10 in the ITM Cup Premiership Semi Final last Friday. It was a physical battle, but the most impressive hit was this scorcher from the home team scrumhalf.
Number nine Frae Wilson scored the opening try of the game after a breakdown turnover, and a few minutes later he mixed it up with the big boys in close, smashing lock Jimmy Tupou.
That's right, it was a complete mismatch but Wilson took it to the far larger player, timing the hit perfectly and clearly impressing renowned big hitter, Motu Matu'u.
Motu Matu'u was involved in a huge collision himself later in the game as he charged towards to the tryline and caught centre Rey Lee-Lo with a big shoulder. Lee-Lo was out cold before hitting the turf, but later walked off the field which was good to see.
The forward effort, led by Matu'u and Ardie Savea, set the platform for the Lions to run in six tries in total, with Lima Sopoaga kicking four conversions and a penalty.
The Wellington Lions will host the final against Canterbury on Saturday, after they themselves beat Auckland 56-26 in a high scoring game in Christchurch.
The cracking scrumhalf-on-lock hit is below, and the Matu'u charge is on page two
Posted at 10:49 am | 14 comments