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.