Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Wales will be without the services of Leicester Tigers flyhalf Owen Williams after he was last night banned for six weeks for making contact with the eyes of Northampton Saints back Luther Burrell in the Aviva Premiership semi final.
The charge against Williams for acts contrary to good sportsmanship, contrary to Law 10.4.M, was heard yesterday evening. Williams pleaded guilty after having made contact with the eye(s) or eye area of Burrell in the 64th minute.
Williams was given a six-week ban that leads up until the 1st September 2014. He is free to play again on 2nd of September. He will miss the three upcoming matches for Wales as well as three pre-season games for Leicester Tigers.
The 22-year-old flyhalf was on track to earn his first ever Wales cap after an impressive season with the Tigers, but that moment will have to wait until later in the year, if all goes to plan.
Wales are set to meet the Springboks in two Tests in South Africa, on June 14 and June 21.
The incident wasn't clearly visible when watching live, and no replays were shown at the time. You can however see Williams leaning and making contact with Burrell, which is obviously where the offence occurred, especially judging by the England center's reaction.
This is a short clip, but other angles would have been available for the disciplinary hearing.
Posted at 9:04 am | 29 comments
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
The Shortball is a quick catch up on some of what went down in Super Rugby in Round 15, with a look at the best tries, some awful kicking and a few big tackles. There was also a controversial finish to one of the best games of the season so far.
Thanks as always to the Fox Sports guys at Rugby HQ. View more Shortball & Plays of the Week
Posted at 4:40 pm | 14 comments
Cheetahs hooker Adrian Strauss will miss the first three Springbok matches of the season after he was suspended for three weeks for a lifting tackle against the Stormers on Saturday night. Strauss pleaded guilty to the charge at the disciplinary hearing.
Strauss will miss the Boks' clash with the World XV as well as the Wales series that comprises of two home Tests in June. He'll be available again for the Scotland Test on June 28.
He was hit with the three-week ban after pleading guilty to a charge of lifting Stormers winger Kobus van Wyk off the ground and failing to bring him back down safely.
It adds to the headaches for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, who has already had to contend with the loss of captain Jean De Villiers to injury, and today the news that Frans Steyn might also be out.
They've called in little known Bulls hooker Callie Visagie as backup to Bismarck Du Plessis, as other players in the position are either injured or unavaible due to club commitments.
"Of the players who have been part of Springbok squads in the last two seasons, Scarra Ntubeni, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Tiaan Liebenberg are injured, while Schalk Brits and Craig Burden are playing in club finals this weekend and aren't available for the camp," said Meyer.
Strauss was yellow carded by referee Stuart Berry at the time, but a SANZAR judiciary found that the incident had an entry point in the low end range, which starts at a four week suspension. "I then added two weeks as a deterrent to send a further message that this type of tackle cannot be tolerated in the game due to the risk it poses to player," said Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casseldon.
"Factors considered in mitigation included the player's excellent record extending over 33 test matches for South Africa and over 100 Super Rugby matches, his good character and the player's early admission of guilt for the tackle and remorse shown for the incident."
Based on that, Casseldon reduced the six week suspension for Strauss to three weeks.
What are your thoughts on the decision, and the 'tip-tackle' law?
Posted at 2:07 pm | 44 comments
Monday, May 26, 2014
There were a lot of big tackles that took place over the weekend, but perhaps the most talked about was this by great shot by Toulon hooker Craig Burden against Saracens. There were some questions about it's legitimacy, but you be the judge.
Powerful hooker Burden came to prominence at the Sharks before heading to Europe after finding himself behind the likes of Bismarck Du Plessis and John Smit at both domestic and Test level.
He's been excellent for Toulon, and in the first half on Saturday he got them on the front foot by knocking back one of Saracens' most potent forces, another South African hooker, Schalk Brits.
Brits loves to take the ball at first receiver as he's an unbelievable playmaker, but in the 18th minute Burden shot out the line and knocked him into next week. Unlike Burden, Brits has played for the Springboks so whether there was extra bite in it because of that or not, a bit of competitive rivalry makes for a good story.
Brits stayed down for a while, but play continued before the Saracens hooker got back up, carried the ball once, and even had time for a neat flick between his legs.
Less than two minutes after the initial hit, he got the ball again. Predator Burden, who made his provincial debut as a wing, pounced again with another solid shot on Brits. The second hit wasn't as big but it was a thrilling few minutes.
Replays showed that the main tackle was similar to Bismarck Du Plessis' huge hit on Dan Carter last year, with the tacklers arms both being wrapped around the hapless victim.
The similarities don't end there, as obviously both players are South African and Du Plessis was also accused of being offside. In this case it looks as though Burden wasn't either, as the ball appeared to be out of the ruck (stand to be corrected) so he didn't need to be behind the last man's feet.
Whether you think it was legal or not (wrapped, offside line etc), it's no doubt one of the biggest hits of the season, from one of the strongest, most mobile and underated hookers in world rugby.
There were a few more great hits in this match too, so we'll get a compilation up soon. Also, you can see some of Burden's best tries for the Sharks in the Related Posts below the video.
Posted at 6:29 pm | 21 comments
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Toulon winger Bryan Habana has issued a public apology for what can only be described as a football-like dive in yesterday's Heineken Cup final. This evening he took to twitter in an attempt to smooth over the incident, and issued a public apology.
The 95 times capped Springbok winger has reached the peak of the game due in part to his incredibly competitive nature and high workrate. Unfortunately in recent times (on more than one occasion) it appears that he's going a bit far, milking small knocks for all they're worth.
Against Saracens he didn't get much ball so was probably quite frustrated. Off turnover ball he set off in typical fashion, but a chip and chase resulted in a slight bit of contact from Owen Farrell, and Habana went down, theatrically, as noted by Top 14 commentator Martin Gillingham.
He might have got the penalty anyway, but he flung his body back in a way that should never be seen on the rugby field. Saracens captain Steve Borthwick could be heard shouting 'Embarrassing, embarrassing' in Habana's direction, and referee Alain Rolland had a word with him.
So this evening, Habana manned up and took full responsibility for his actions, apologising.
"So before anything.. Apologies in every way and to the whole community for happened in the Heineken Cup final yesterday... It was in no way intended with malice or to bring the game into disrepute. Sportsmanship and integrity are key factors to what makes rugby so special and I let myself, the fans, our opponents and the game down. Hopefully it didn't take away from what was a fantastic spectacle and even more so a special victory for @RCTOfficiel."
Fair play to him. He's been at the highest level for ten years now and with this weekend's win he's joined an exclusive club of players to have won pretty much everything - Currie Cup, Super Rugby, British & Irish Lions, Tri Nations, World Cup and now, the Heineken Cup.
And next weekend, possibly the Top 14 too. But diving, that can't happen again.
Posted at 8:18 pm | 72 comments
Toulon joined an elite group of teams to have successfully defended their Heineken Cup title as they beat Saracens 23-6 on a historic occasion at the Millennium Stadium yesterday. Jonny Wilkinson contributed 13 points in his final game on British soil.
Both sides started slowly in what was anything but a free-flowing game, but Toulon broke loose to score two fantastic tries, with former Test stars Matt Giteau and Juan Smith both going over.
Today Wilkinson turns 35 but yesterday rolled back the years, playing a hand in both tries as well as converting them. He was faultless from the tee in what was the penultimate game of his career, and managed to slot a trademark dropgoal too, with his right (wrong) foot.
"It's a hell of a feeling. I can't say enough how proud I am to be a part of that and a part of this team," he said post match. "We've had a hell of a time and our season's got one more game but this is something I'll take with me for ever. There is a lot of relief, a lot of excitement."
The center paring of Mathieu Bastareaud and try scorer Giteau put in another top performance, and in the forwards Craig Burden was everywhere in the first half (more on that to follow), while flanker Smith rolled back the years to remind fans exactly how good a player he is when injury free.
Steffon Armitage claimed Man of the Match, outplaying England number eight Billy Vunipola in most departments, and again putting pressure on national coach Stuart Lancaster, who was in the crowd.
Saracens have another shot at glory next week in the Aviva Premiership Final against Northampton Saints, but will spend a few days trying to work out exactly what went wrong in Cardiff.
With the win Toulon have become just the third club ever to win back-to-back Heineken Cups, following on from English club Leicester in 2001-2002 and Irish powerhouses Leinster in 2011-2012.
The match featured many big tackles and plenty of bruising clashes, so we'll get a clip up of some of those soon, but for now here as the highlights of the game, including the post match celebrations.
Posted at 4:03 pm | 25 comments
Friday, May 23, 2014
Rugby HQ have put together their list of the best big man vs little man moments, with a David vs Goliath compilation that features some must see moments from both Super Rugby, End of year tours up north and a bit of local club rugby too. Number one is worth waiting for.
The terminology probably isn't quite right, but as you'll see it's explained during the video. Which other similar moments would you add to the list? One recent example of a good David vs Goliath clip would be when scrumhalf Frae Wilson smashed Jimmy Tupou, a lock.
View more Top 5 compilations in our category page for it - Top 5 Compilations
Posted at 5:52 pm | 22 comments