Tuesday, April 28, 2015
The Shortball highlights from Round 11 are packed with some amazing clips, all wrapped up in a great video from the guys at Fox Sports. From terrible tackles to sensational scores, Sean Maloney leads the way through all the events from the past weekend.
Ian Prior's tip tackle on Tim Nanai-Williams doesn't look any better the second time around, and it only went downhill from there for the Western Force as they suffered a 35-27 defeat to The Chiefs on the night, meaning they occupy bottom spot on the Super Rugby table.
David Pocock's first half hat-trick is undeniably impressive and worth another look as the Brumbies flanker continues his fine form. The turnover wizard is hot on the heels of Australia captain, Michael Hooper, as both look to claim the starting 7 jersey before the World Cup.
As if Beauden Barrett's spectacular 5-pointer's in Round 8 and Round 10 weren't enough for the Hurricanes, they've gathered the Try of the Week title for Round 11 also, with another exceptionally skillful score, this time finished by TJ Perenara against the Reds.
It's all capped off with some trademark monster hits, a look at how the Reds paid their respects on Anzac day, and a quick piece of nostalgia with a classic clip of All Black legend Zinzan Brooke's enormous drop goal against England in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
As April comes to an end, keep an eye out for the Plays of the Month post compiling all the best, worst, and unforgettable moments from the past 4 weeks of Super Rugby.
For more Shortball highlights head to our Plays of the Week section.
credit: Fox Sports Australia
All Black flanker Richie McCaw was left unconscious for a short period in the Crusaders Super Rugby match this weekend after taking a nasty knock to the head whilst making a covering tackle on Blues fullback, Lolagi Visinia.
After securing an impressive turnover, the Blues were quick to spread the ball to the wing in an effort to launch a counter attack against a disorganised Crusaders defence.
McCaw rushed forward to make the hit, but unfortunately his head ended up on the wrong side as he made contact, causing his body to immediately appear limp as he fell to the floor.
Play continued as the Crusaders openside lay prone, devoid of movement for a good few seconds, and when he did eventually come round he was visibly dazed and uneasy on his feet.
Immediately following the collision McCaw was expected to undergo concussion tests to see if he was able to continue, but having viewed the replays Crusaders coach, Todd Blackadder, determined himself that his flanker had been knocked out and must be replaced.
Blackadder was very clear in his stance that, although he appreciates just how important a presence the openside flanker brings, the safety of his players is paramount.
The latest is that McCaw has been ruled out of the Crusaders' crunch match with the Hurricanes due to the time frame needed for recovery.
"He had a bit of a mild headache yesterday morning and by yesterday evening he was feeling really well," Crusaders doctor Deb Robinson explained on Tuesday. "But we made the decision that, if was still symptomatic on Monday, he wouldn't play this weekend."
She added that his last concussion was back in 2011, and said that he's been at the Crusaders team meetings and if he's feeling better tomorrow, will start doing some bike work, which will start his road to recovery. He is expected to be fit for the Reds clash the following week.
The incident is reminiscent of Leigh Halfpenny's recent concussion in the Six Nations when he got his head on the wrong side whilst tackling Italian Number 8, Samuela Vunisa.
credit: le rugbynistere
Monday, April 27, 2015
It was another action packed round in the Guinness Pro12 last weekend, with much to play for at both the top and middle of the league. Wins for Glasgow, Munster, Ulster and Ospreys secured their play-off spots in May, while triumphs for Scarlets and Edinburgh set up a mouth-watering battle for European Champions Cup qualification.
View our recap and the official match highlights
Brumbies flanker David Pocock had another sensational game at the weekend, this time scoring a hat-trick of tries against the Highlanders, all in almost identical fasion, and all in the first half. The Brumbies led 31-6, were scoreless in the second, but won 31-18.
Pocock was inspirational throughout, and to add to his growing reputation as a serious force on the field and a humantarian off it, he celebrated his tries with the sign language signal for clapping. Something that was lost on one Australian journalist in particular.
Ouch. To her credit, she later apologised and congratulated him on his well earned hat-trick.
Highlanders skipper Nasi Manu, off to Edinburgh soon, described Pocock as a 'demon'.
"He's a good player, he's been unfortunate with his injuries but he's a demon over the ball and you have to have your technique perfect if you want to get him off it," he said.
Pocock himself paid tribute to the forwards around him.
"We knew we had to start well and get the rhythm right. Credit to the forwards, I thought our rolling maul was outstanding," he said.
Last week we featured a video and poll about him and his great play at the breakdown, and the inevitable comparisions to current Wallaby skipper, Michael Hooper.
We asked who you would rather have starting for your side, and Pocock came up trumps. This coming weekend, the two will meet when the Brumbies take on the Waratahs.
"It's a big game against the Waratahs next week, we've got stuff to improve and the Tahs have been in really good form," Pocock said. Below is a recap of his tries and general play.
credit: brumbies tv
Sunday, April 26, 2015
La Rochelle scored with the final play of the game to secure a historic and momentous victory over Toulon in the Top 14 this weekend. Watch the emotional last few minutes that show just what this triumph meant to all involved in the home side's setup.
With 5 minutes left on the clock, La Rochelle were camped deep inside the visiting side's 22, aware that a famous victory was within their grasp if they could find a try right at the death.
Toulon absorbed wave after wave of black shirted attack, but their ill-discipline would cost them dear as mammoth Georgian Number 8, Mamuka Gorgodze, was sin-binned for collapsing a driving maul with under 2 minutes remaining on the clock.
The resulting scrum didn't go the way the home side hoped however, and after gathering lose ball they found themselves back on the Toulon 22 having to scramble and try to reorganise.
With his desire and emotions overpowering his composure, La Rochelle coach Patrice Collazo, could be heard caterwauling from the touchlines as Toulon infringed once again.
Having collected the lineout, La Rochelle didn't bother to put a single player in their backline, instead opting to use every ounce of power available to them to drive their way to the whitewash, in their final efforts to defeat the Top 14 and European champions.
Moments later, centre Malietoa Hingano picked from the base of the ruck and twisted and turned his way through the desperate Toulon defence to find the tryline.
It was clear just what the result meant to all involved with the home club, as the players, coaches and supporters were catapulted into unbridled joy, Collazo himself appeared to shed a few tears as the realisation of their accomplishment began to sink in.
Congratulations to La Rochelle, as their victory moves them up to 9th in the Top 14 table.
Head to the Related Posts or our See it to Believe it archives for more jaw-dropping rugby.
credit: Boucherie Ovalie
Friday, April 24, 2015
Toulon defeated Leinster 25-20 in the second semi-final of the European Champions Cup last weekend, but they only achieved victory in extra time, and were forced to play 10 minutes of the added period with only 14 men as former All Black, Ali Williams, was yellow carded for his challenge in the air on Devin Toner.
As part of the Toulon chasing contingent from the kick off, Williams' efforts to catch the ball were not aided by teammates hoisting him skyward, and as such he inevitably did not rise as high as the Leinster man.
The subsequent collision appeared fairly incidental, but Toner did fall from height onto his side, appearing to immediately be in some discomfort. The reaction from the Leinster supporters and players was the expected synchronicity of protest against the Kiwi's actions.
Williams was quick to plead his innocence, and although subsequent replays do appear to confirm he only had eyes for the ball, referee Wayne Barnes was of the opinion that he had no realistic possibility of claiming possession against Toner, and produced a yellow card.
The former New Zealand international clearly disagreed with the decision, as did the Toulon supporters, and there is certainly an argument to be made for their frustration.
The annoyance doesn't come so much from Barnes' decision, but the inconsistency.
If the reason for the sanction is that Williams' efforts were unrealistic and unnecessary, and in turn endangered the safety of a fellow player, that precedent must regulate across all foul play - especially when a 10 minute sin bin can have such an enormous impact on a game.
The restart from which he committed the offence came as a result of a successful Leinster penalty, a penalty that was awarded for Jocelino Suta's strangehold on Richardt Strauss.
If the logic for the yellow card is that it was a reckless act endangering an opposition player, the question over whether Suta deserved a similar punishment, if not harsher, is one that requires an answer.
The result would have been Toulon playing the final portion of the match with only 13 men, and it's impossible to say how that may have altered the outcome.
How do you think Williams' and Suta's situations should have been handled?
For more controversial rugby head to our Dirty Play archives
Force scrumhalf Ian Prior received his marching orders in the first half of the round 11 Super Rugby clash with the Chiefs earlier today. Prior was shown a straight red card, so will face a disciplinary hearing, charged with Law 10.4 (j) Lifting a player from the ground.
Prior rushed in to fill a gap as the dangerous Tim Nanai-Williams took a pop ball off the side of a ruck. The Chiefs flyer dropped it, but Prior had already lined him up, and not only went through with the tackle, but proceeded to lift and tip him in a way that was clearly dangerous.
The Force number nine realised immediately what he'd done and tried to apologise, but Nanai-Williams, and more significantly referee Angus Gardner, were having none of it.
Replays showed just how dangerous a tackle it was, as the legs were lifted way past horizontal and, perhaps due to momentum, Nanai-Williams was driven into the turf.
His citing falls under the charge of Law 10.4 (j), Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player's feet are still off the ground such that the player's head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play.
Prior looked remorseful, and a little stunned, but players need to be fully aware of what can happen when lifting another player up in a challenge, even it's not intentional.
The Chiefs went on to win the match 35-27.
UPDATE: Prior has been suspended for 3 weeks. View the disciplinary hearing release
credit: NZAUTV Sports