Monday, November 17, 2014
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has lauded his team's 31-28 victory over England in the wet weather of Twickenham on Saturday. The much needed win stretches their unbeaten run against England to 12 matches, dating back to November 2006.
The fifth consecutive win at Twickenham holds the Springboks in good stead heading into a Rugby World Cup year whereby the tournament will be held in the UK. While their loss against Ireland a week prior was dissappointing, Meyer was proud of the three-try effort in the rain.
"I'm very proud of the guys – it was a clinical performance and we played tactically very well in the conditions," said Meyer. "Even though it was wet and the ball was quite slippery, we still scored three tries, while there could've been a fourth.
Jan Serfontein scored with an intercept, then just after halftime Cobus Reinach crossed after a brilliant bit of play by Pat Lambie and fullback Willie Le Roux. Man of the Match Schalk Burger also crossed for a well constructed try off the back of a maul, despite being down to just 7 forwards.
"I also thought the players did very well to keep their composure and take back the lead after England scored two quick tries early in the second half," Meyer said of England's excellent comeback, which brought them level at 20-20 after two quick, powerfully taken tries.
Burger, whose comeback from illness and injury culminated in a start for the Springboks, has now been released from the squad and flew back to South Africa yesterday.
"A decision was taken prior to the tour that Schalk will be released from the squad on Sunday," said Meyer ahead of the upcoming Test against Italy in Padova. "We still have good depth at loose forward and can also look at bringing in reinforcements if necessary."
He added that the challenge now is to build on this performance and keep lifting the intensity.
England coach Stuart Lancaster said that he is well aware of England's five successive defeats.
"I think as a coach you accept that if you win the players get the credit and, if you lose, the coach gets the flak," he said. "It's been a tough run against two world-class teams, but we need a win."
credit: England Rugby
Posted at 12:39 pm | 26 comments
Samoa bounced back from defeat to Italy to beat Canada 23-13 in Vannes, France on Friday night. Canada couldn't take advantage of all their chances, while Samoa snapped up two tries to Anthony Perenise and Winston Stanley. Conor Trainor scored Canada's only try.
Samoa had some off-field issues in the lead up to this match, as they threatened to boycott next week's match against England because they were unhappy with their management style and pay, but that was averted due to the intervention of the IRB.
The win should lift the spirits, and hopefully next weekend we'll see a strong Samoan side turning out at Twickenham to face England who will still be smarting from their loss to South Africa.
Credit to Rugby Canada Communications for the highlights. They show a few more of their own team's chances than Samoa's, but they do show all the tries and a late chance in the corner.
Posted at 11:23 am | 1 comments
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Scotland were left ruing the missed opportunity to spring the biggest upset of the year as New Zealand held things together to survive a scare and win 24-16 at Murrayfield on Saturday. A late try from lock Jeremy Thrush put the home side out of contention.
It wasn't the best All Blacks XV on show but Scotland, wearing their alternate strip, took it to the world champions and were in the game right up until the last five minutes, when the experience and power of the visitors took effect.
Scotland had never beaten New Zealand, so they'll feel that this was one that got away, while the All Blacks might reconsider fielding such an experimental side in future.
Scotland's Kiwi coach Vern Cotter was pleased with the character his side showed.
"If you look at our defence, I thought our defence was excellent. A few players really put their hands up and led the team, everybody contributed. I think we can get confidence in the way we vary our play. We can attack, we can kick, we can use short side, we can use space in the back...
"One thing you can be sure of, is that there's character in there. And that's very important," he said.
Steve Hansen was impressed, saying that Scotland could be a Six Nations dark horse.
"I think Scotland are a very good side on the way up. I really do mean that sincerely. I think by the time the Six Nations comes around they will be right in it," Hansen said.
Scotland suffered a number of injuries in the physical clash, with some players completing the game but requiring further care from the medical team.
They include, Alasdair Dickinson (lower leg), Alex Dunbar (ankle), Adam Ashe, Blair Cowan (both neck strain), Richie Gray, Ross Ford (both shoulder), Tommy Seymour, Greig Laidlaw (both hand) and Euan Murray (groin). Mark Bennett (hamstring) will return to his club.
View extended match highlights below, including post match interviews with Stuart Hogg and intercept try scorer Tommy Seymour. On the next page you can view the Scottish press conference with coach Cotter and skipper Greig Laidlaw.
Credit: Scottish Rugby TV
Posted at 7:16 pm | 11 comments
Saturday, November 15, 2014
We've had another great day of Test rugby, with more still to come tomorrow. South Africa held on to beat England at Twickenham, while Wales beat a determined Fiji side in Cardiff. Scotland gave New Zealand a real scare at Murrayfield, while Tonga won convincingly against the USA.
Weekend Test match results:
Canada 13 - 23 Samoa
Italy 18 - 20 Argentina
England 28 - 31 South Africa
Wales 17 - 13 Fiji
Romania 13 - 18 Japan
Tonga 40 - 12 United States of America
Scotland 16 - 24 New Zealand
France 29 - 26 Australia
Ireland 49 - 7 Georgia
Highlights, clips and match reports from the big matches will follow over the next few days. Let us know your thoughts on the results, talking points etc in the comments below.
Posted at 4:54 pm | 28 comments
Friday, November 14, 2014
France had a strong second half to end up convincing 40-15 winners over Fiji in Marseille last weekend, with debutant winger Teddy Thomas scoring a hat-trick. They've since named an unchanged side for Saturday's clash with the Wallabies.
Test debuts don't come much better than that of 21-year-old Thomas, who scored his first try within a minute of kick off, then picked up another two to seal his hat-trick in the five-try performance.
Fiji were right in the game when trailing 14-8 in the second half, but Thomas' second try started what turned out to be a very convincing win in the end.
He has naturally retained his place for the meeting with Australia, as does Scott Spedding, the South African born fullback who also made his debut last weekend.
"You don't change a winning team. I saw some positive signs" said coach Philippe Saint-Andre said when reflecting on the Fiji match. "We want to carry on with the same 15, who will need to find even greater understanding and teamwork against Australia."
He was impressed with the debutants, specifically Thomas. "He's fast, he wins his challenges and he scores tries. Spedding's first cap was a quality performance, the same goes for Dumoulin."
France lost all three Tests to the Wallabies in their June series, so Saint-Andre is out for revenge.
"We have a triple revenge to take. What struck me most was the third test (39-13 defeat) where we collapsed too quickly. That's unacceptable when you represent a country," he said.
France: Scott Spedding, Yoann Huget, Alexandre Dumoulin, Wesley Fofana, Teddy Thomas, Camille Lopez, Sebastien Tillous-Borde; Damien Chouly, Bernard Le Roux, Thierry Dusautoir (captain), Yoann Maestri, Pascal Pape, Nicolas Mas, Guilhem Guirado, Alexandre Menini. Reserves: Benjamin Kayser, Uini Antonio, Xavier Chiocci, Alexandre Flanquart, Charles Ollivon, Rory Kockott, Remi Tales, Mathieu Bastareaud
Australia: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali'ifano, Joe Tomane, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps; Ben McCalman, Michael Hooper (capt), Sean McMahon, Rob Simmons, James Horwill, Sekope Kepu, Saia Fainga'a, James Slipper. Reserves: James Hanson, Benn Robinson, Ben Alexander, Will Skelton, Matt Hodgson, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Rob Horne
Below are the France vs Fiji match highlights if you missed the game last weekend
Posted at 8:16 pm | 7 comments
Springbok legend Joost van der Westhuizen has been in the UK of late, traveling around to not only watch matches but also to spread awareness for MND and the work his J9 Foundation does. He was on BT Sport's Rugby Tonight recently for a catch up chat.
A few weeks ago Van Der Westhuizen lost a former team mate to Motor Neuron Disease, as Western Province legend and Springbok tourist Tinus Linee tragically passed away after a 19-month struggle. Now more than ever, Joost aims to spread further awareness of this debilitating condition.
Ahead of England's Test against South Africa, he spoke to the Rugby Tonight team that includes Matt Dawson, Austin Healey, Martin Bayfield and Ben Kay - all players that the former number nine played against during his prolific Test career.
His brother, Pieter, helped out as Van der Westhuizen touched on the fact that Dawson and Healey were always fierce adversaries, but that he also remembers Dawson's famous dummy in the Lions tour of 1997.
Coming back to the present, the Blue Bulls legend feels that South Africa's loss to Ireland at the weekend is the kind of reality check they needed, saying that the Irish have done them a favour, just a year out from the Rugby World Cup.
On a more serious note, Joost has two small children and while he knows that his life is slowly ticking away, he aims to create as many memories and quality moments as possible. He has also said that there are two things you should not take for granted: time, and your healh.
"There are two things we take for granted every day - time and health. The moment you lose them, then only do you wake up. I had a choice. Either I stay at home and die, or I live my life. I have a platform and now I’m using it to help with MND," he said recently.
If you were one of those that did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge recently, this is what it's all about and while the hype surrounding it has died down, Joost and Linee are examples of the horrific realities of the affliction. If you're able to, please visit joost.co.za for more info
credit to BT Sport
Posted at 6:05 am | 7 comments
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
The International Rugby Board has announced a shortlist of five nominees for the IRB World Rugby Player of the Year 2014. The list comprises five players that were selected after forty-five matches were reviewed by the panel. Three countries are represented.
Two South Africans, two New Zealanders and an Irishman make up the prestigious shortlist that features a spread across the field - two outside backs, a fly-half, a number eight and a lock.
As worded by the IRB, here is a little bit about each player and their 2014 performances.
WILLIE LE ROUX (South Africa) A strong and elusive runner from full-back, Willie le Roux has started all 10 of South Africa’s Tests in 2014 to take his tally to 22 Tests since his debut against Italy in June 2013. The 25-year-old, who has scored seven Test tries, is strong under the high ball and is potentially the most exciting South Africa outside back to come onto the scene since Bryan Habana.
BRODIE RETALLICK (New Zealand) A towering presence in the lineout, Brodie Retallick’s partnership with Sam Whitelock makes arguably the best second row in world rugby at present. The 23-year-old’s powerful runs and work-rate across the pitch have brought him to the fore in 2014. An IRB Junior World Championship winner in 2011, Retallick has 35 Tests and one try – against South Africa in the 2013 Rugby Championship – to his name.
JULIAN SAVEA (New Zealand) With a try-scoring rate that few can match, Julian Savea has inevitably drawn comparisons with legendary All Black wing Jonah Lomu this year. The 24-year-old has scored 10 tries in 2014, including a hat-trick against England in the third Test in June, to take his tally to 29 tries in just 31 Tests. Savea was named the IRB Junior Player of the Year in 2010 after helping New Zealand win a third successive IRB Junior World Championship title.
JONATHAN SEXTON (Ireland) The oldest of the nominees at 29, Jonathan Sexton has been the stand-out player for Ireland in 2014 as they claimed the Six Nations title, a first series win in Argentina in June and the scalp of South Africa in Dublin last weekend. His control of the game at fly-half and perfect record from the kicking tee earned the 49-Test veteran the man of the match award against the Springboks.
DUANE VERMEULEN (South Africa) A classic South African number 8, Duane Vermeulen has won plaudits across the world in 2014 for his work at the breakdown, power in the tackle and his destructive ball carrying. With 26 Tests to his name, the 28-year-old was named man of the man in South Africa’s 27-25 victory over world champions New Zealand in October with his battle with Kieran Read worth the admission price alone.
The IRB World Rugby Player of the Year 2014 nominees were selected by the independent IRB Awards panel, chaired by Australia’s Rugby World Cup 1999 winning captain John Eales.
The panel, comprising Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustín Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Paul Wallace, has deliberated on every major Test played in 2014, starting with the RBS Six Nations and culminating with the November internationals.
Previous winners include Kieran Read, Dan Carter, Thierry Dusautoir, Shane Williams, Bryan Habana, Schalk Burger, Jonny Wilkinson and Richie McCaw with the two All Black centurions the only players to have won the award on more than one occasion.
Who do you think is most deserving of the award this year?
Posted at 3:25 pm | 42 comments