Friday, April 12, 2013
Plays of the Week are back and we've got plenty to keep you entertained, as the working week comes to a close and the rugby weekend hots up. Today we're catching up on the three latest videos, as we know you love Rugby HQ's Plays.
This weekend there isn't any top-tier international rugby, Sevens or otherwise, so it's all about Super Rugby, PRO12, Top 14, and Aviva Premiership. There was a game earlier today actually, as the Highlanders lost to the Brumbies in Dunedin.
In fact the Highlanders have been taking a beating of late, not just on the scorecard. We saw recently that one of their players in particular took a nasty knock, and another handed one out.
So far this season almost every Super Rugby match has provided a talking point, be it good or bad, so Plays of the Week is usually a great way to catch up on all the best - and worst - bits.
As they haven't been posted for a while, what we've done below is include all three latest Plays videos, but in a slight different way to usual. The Youtube playlists weren't proving popular with some, so you can now simply click on the page numbers below to be taken to the next video.
Round 8, the latest instalment, is below. Enjoy, and have a great weekend.
Posted at 3:02 pm | 2 comments
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill has criticised Heineken Cup organisors for the lack of punishment for Toulon lock Bakkies Botha after Marcos Ayerze broke his collarbone attempting to tackle him on Sunday.
Cockerill feels that Botha should have been charged with 'excessive use of the knee' after he stormed towards the tryline at the Stade Felix Mayol in the Tigers' 21-15 Quarter Final loss.
The former England hooker, no saint himself, was disgusted when hearing that Botha was not cited by ERC, and went on to accuse them of being out of touch with the modern game.
"Marcos has broken his collarbone in two. He will have surgery to have it plated and repaired, and he will be out for three months," explained an incensed Cockerill.
"I have been told that there will be no citing of the incident. The citing officer put it forward as a citable offence but the gatekeeper from ERC's disciplinary section has decided that it is not worthy of a citing. From the footage we have seen, we felt that it was an illegal act of jumping into a tackle.
"It caused a lot of damage to the player and I am very disappointed in the attitude that ERC have come back to us with. And I am bitterly disappointed with the inconsistency at disciplinary level within ERC yet again. They have failed to deal with what, in my opinion, is an act of foul play.
"I am pretty sure it is against the laws of the game to hurdle into a player – and that has caused damage to our player who will now miss the rest of the season."
Argentine Ayerza said he was in a lot of pain before the operation, which will involve plates and screws. He said that he was told by club doctors that he'll be out of rugby for about nine weeks.
"For me, that is a disgraceful decision to not, at least, have a hearing to look at all of the facts," continued Cockerill. "To lose one of the best loosehead props in the world in that fashion is disappointing. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
"The rule-makers are so fussy on so many things but, when something like this happens, the disciplinary panels and officers decide there is no case to answer."
Some felt that it was actually Botha who was unlucky in this instance, as the try wasn't awarded. View the footage below and you can decide for yourself if there was a jump into the tackle or not.
Posted at 11:34 am | 66 comments
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The Munster midfield duo of James Downey and Casey Laulala may not be the youngest around, but against Harlequins at the weekend they imposed themselves physically, playing a major role in the 18-12 Heineken Cup Quarter Final victory at The Stoop.
Downey, who played five seasons at Northampton Saints, returned to England with one of the tackles of the weekend, halting fullback Mike Brown's progress in no uncertain terms.
It was perhaps indicative of the attitude and commitment Munster had on the day, coming back from a PRO12 loss to Glasgow, looking to make ammends and throw everything into this fixture.
"We just imposed ourselves on them physically. We said we wanted to do that. Obviously, English teams are normally physical and we had to step up and increase the intensity," said Downey.
"It was a great game to be involved in. ROG said it after and Paulie said it, that's the way Munster are, that's the way Munster play, that’s the Munster game and it's great to be part of it.
"It went well and I got my hands on the ball early, I wanted to do that. I made some tackles as well. That's a big part of my game and I'm glad it paid off. It is the kind of game I like, it suited my sort of style. There is a time and a place for it, it is a fine balance," said the big centre.
Speaking yesterday at a recovery session at the University of Limerick, Downey said that it was a unique day to be a part of. "At the end of the game when you are walking around and seeing so many Munster fans, wondering where they got all the tickets!
"I don't know where they got them from to be honest. But that’s it, that's what makes these days.
"As Paulie said, when you go out there you find someone in the crowd and look at them and you see what it means to them. They had paid good money to get over there and get the tickets; you have to produce for them, that's what it's all about."
It was a fantastic European win for Munster, but the two-times champions now need to switch focus back to the RaboDirect Pro12, and their crunch Thomond Park clash with Leinster this Saturday.
"I think we have just got to keep it going. We need a couple of back-to-backs wins and no better game to have than Leinster to be honest. That Harlequins game was a full performance, but it is about backing it up now and we have to back it up this week.
"We still have a chance of making the Pro12 play-offs. It's a long shot, but the chance is there and we haven't beaten them in a while. It's time we put that right, especially at home," he said.
Munster face Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup Semi Finals on Saturday, 27th April
Posted at 8:39 am | 15 comments
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Julian Savea scored two fantastic tries against the Waratahs on Saturday as the Hurricanes powered to a 41-29 victory at home. Power is usually the name of the game with Savea, but the rookie's second try showed that he has plenty of skill too.
Round 8 of Super Rugby featured some great tries and dramatic finishes, but for many Savea's bit of skill is what stood out as one of the magic moment's of the weekend.
Last month we saw the young All Black smashing the Crusaders all over the park, including putting in a big tackle on Robbie Fruean, and bouncing off Israel Dagg on the way to the tryline.
Against the Waratahs he kept up that form, scoring a great try in the first half as he easily outsprinted Wallaby Adam Ashley-Cooper after Conrad Smith put him into space.
In the second half he scored again, this time chasing a kick ahead that bobbled around before he swooped on it and snatched it from three Waratahs players. At full tilt he managed to grab it and swerve infield, almost side-stepping the players, before he even had the ball.
Great players make the impossible look simple. At this stage, with 12 Test tries in just 9 matches, and making this kind of impact each weekend, Savea is looking like the real deal.
Posted at 2:27 pm | 11 comments
Sunday, April 07, 2013
Bath crashed out of the Amlin Challenge Cup with a 36-20 quarter final loss to Stade Francais at the Rec on Saturday, but it was a shocking spitting incident in the first half that claimed all the headlines. Peter Stringer has since said that he was 'disgusted'.
Stade Francais scored some lovely tries in their dismantling of the home side but this incident soured affairs regardless of the result. It occured when Stringer and Fillol got in a bit of a tangle after the whistle, and despite competitive tussles between halfbacks being the norm, there appeared to be no real reason for such a filthy reaction.
After the game Stringer said: "Obviously it is a bit raw at the moment, but it happened on the pitch and there is no place in the game for it. That's as low as you can probably go. When you are on the end of something like that you are rattled by it, but try not to dwell on it. It's out of my hands now."
The former Ireland number nine was livid but kept his cool, telling referee Nigel Owens what happened. Owens' response was something along the lines of "I can only deal with what I see".
Stringer took to Twitter this morning, clearly still unhappy about Fillol's behaviour.
Fans will be hoping appropriate action is taken, which we will find out about tomorrow. Independant citing officer Eugene Ryan, from Ireland, has 50 hours from kick-off to make his decision.
Brett Gosper, CEO of the International Rugby Board (IRB) Tweeted: "Spitting on Stringer should be punished to the full extent of the law. #NotRugby"
UPDATE: Fillol has been suspended for 14 weeks. Read all the hearing details here
Posted at 7:00 pm | 63 comments
Blues flyer George Moala has been suspended for a week for the tackle that knocked out opposite number Buxton Popoali'i during the Blues' 29-18 win over the Highlanders on Friday night. Popoali'i left the field on a stretcher with concussion.
This was the same game that Ma'a Nonu shoulder charged Piri Weepu in, and while Nonu escaped punishment after the match, Moala was cited and has since received a one-week ban.
He pleaded guilty to the charge and accepted the sanction handed down on him by SANZAR judicial officer Nicholas Davidson QC. Davidson's view was that there was no intentional foul play, but when Popoali'i reached forward at the last minute it changed his body position, and Moala failed to adjust to that, leading to contact above the shoulders with force.
Moala, still just 22 years-old, was clearly shaken by what had happened and after spending 10 minutes in the sinbin, coach John Kirwan reportedly substituted him for precisely that reason.
Credit to scrum-half Aaron Smith, who recognised the situation instantly and helped his team mate out within seconds as he put him in the recovery position before the medics arrived.
Popoali'i had no neck or spinal injuries but will likely be out for a week after the concussion, and will be monitored daily by medical staff who will keep tabs on his recovery.
Posted at 1:19 pm | 29 comments
Chris Ashton scored one of his better tries in recent times as Saracens beat Ulster 27-16 to progress to the semi finals of the Heineken Cup for only the second time. They will return to Twickenham to face French heavyweights Toulon.
Owen Farrell kicked 17 points as Saracens outplayed last year's finalists, scoring two tries to one, through Will Fraser and Chris Ashton. Ruan Pienaar kicked 11 points for Ulster, while Iain Henderson scored a consolation try late in the game.
"We were outstanding and our forwards worked their nuts off against a very powerful team," said Farrell post match. "We expected a hugely physical battle and that's what we got.
"I wasn't the only Saracens player knocked back on the seat of his shorts but we fought for each other. Overall, we are really proud as a squad. It was a real team effort," he said.
Ashton's 63rd minute try sealed the win for the home side, as he tracked an inside line in trademark style, then backed his pace despite England team mate Brad Barritt shouting on the inside.
On a sidenote, South African number eight Ernst Joubert took a nasty knock to the face during the match, despite finishing all smiles at the final whistle. BBC correspondent Dan Roan posted this quite shocking Tindall-esque photo of Joubert's badly broken nose on Twitter.
Saracens will play their semi final on April 28th at Twickenham. Below is a look at Ashton's try.
Posted at 10:51 am | 21 comments