Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Two years ago Toulon played Olympique Marseille in a charity match that comprised of half football, half rugby. They've done it again, this time against France's 1998 FIFA World Cup winners, with the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Marcel Desailly and Didier Deschamps taking part.
Eric Cantona refereed the last time they played the novelty match, but this time it was Bernard Laporte, as Stade Mayol got to watch some legends of both sports have a go at one another, all in the name of charity. Proceeds will go to the Association de Pascal Olmeta charity.
Zidane scored a try but Toulon won the rugby 30-20, with the footballers scoring more goals to win 6-3 in the soccer half. The final score was 33-26 to the European Champions.
You can view highlights from the match above, and some photos on page two
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Richie McCaw's winning try against the Springboks on Saturday was hailed as a moment of genius, while some have called it illegal, and it has had a fair bit of scrutiny this week. Technically legal or not, it was very well created, but it's not the first time we've seen it.
Two years back Samoa did the exact same thing against the Springboks, also resulting in a try. It's almost a carbon copy of McCaw's, and equally effective. But who is to blame defensively? You can work that out for yourself, as you can watch both tries together below.
The Springboks beat Samoa convincingly in 2013, but McCaw's try on Saturday proved vital and there will have been plenty of headscratching in the South African camp.
Interestingly, the legendary All Black skipper said that it was a move they practiced during the week, and while it was going to go to number nine originally, as with the Samoa try, he pulled rank and said he'll step up and take it on.
"I had to pull rank," McCaw jokingly told reporters. "When we practiced the move during the week there was a debate as to whether I or a half-back would execute it. I am pretty relieved that it worked out."
New Zealand won 27-20. You can view post match interviews and the full match replay here
EXTRA: The match against Samoa in 2013 is the same one in which Alesana Tuilagi was red carded for almost taking Jean De Villiers's head off. You can watch that here.
Samoa and Fiji played out an extremely entertaining 30-30 draw in their Pacific Nations Cup clash in Sacramento, California at the weekend. There were plenty of big collisions, but none more enjoyable than this trademark Alesana Tuilagi tackle.
It was another fascinating round of Pacific Nations Cup rugby, as the USA upset Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool B opponents Japan 23-18, while Tonga beat hosts Canada 28-18 in Burnaby.
The battle for Pacific pride went the full 80 minutes as Samoa and Fiji couldn't be seperated, despite a some great bits of running rugby. A late 78th minute penalty by Samoan replacement Patrick Fa'apale ended up cancelling out Fiji's earlier 76th minute kick.
A feature of the match was not only the high tempo, but the brutal clashes between some giant players. And there is no bigger than Alesana Tuilagi, who put a monster hit in on Waisea Nayacalevu, who at 6ft5 and over 100kg's, is far from the smallest wing in world rugby himself.
The crowd loved it, as did former US players Dallen Stanford and Dan Power, who both came out with a number of rugbyisms in commentary to keep the viewers entertained.
"The biggest hit in Sacramento since the Beatles rolled through in the sixties!"
Tuilagi's younger brother, Vavae, actually made his debut for Samoa recently and was involved in number of highlights, including a big charge that sent USA back Thretton Palamo flying.
The PNC pool stages conclude on Wednesday in Toronto when USA tackle Tonga, Pool B leaders Fiji face Japan and Canada meet Pool A leaders Samoa. The final rankings will then determine who faces who on the finals day in Vancouver on 3 August.
View the big tackle below, and official highlights on page two
Bhubesi Pride Foundation has been running projects in Africa for the last four years. The latest video showcases these very goals. Featuring Malawi, Botswana and Zambia, a new team member with a great back story has had his life changed through the charity.
Back in 2011, Wordsworth Rashid emailed Bhubesi Pride Foundation from Malawi, hoping the charity would bring rugby to one of the Lilongwe-based schools where he supports children with special educational needs. Today, four years on, Wordsworth is actively using rugby as a tool for life-skills education in four local schools the charity now links with.
To help Wordsworth, 43, develop his project management skills, the charity arranged for him to join the Pride in May, travelling into Zambia and Botswana on a life-changing trip. Until this year, he'd never left Malawi.
In this latest update you can see his story and the charity's ongoing work contributing to rugby and education development in these particular regions. Also in this feature, the team visits three schools in Zambia; and G4S Botswana launch a valuable legacy project in Gaborone, where the business significantly improves the facilities and security of a local school.
"It's exciting to already be signing up team members for our 2016 project, knowing that they have a solid foundation to build on and the opportunity to experience rugby in Africa," says Operations Director Oliver Munns, referring to the ongoing application process.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Wallaby Michael Hooper has been cited for striking following an off the ball incident during Australia's 34-9 Rugby Championship second round victory over Argentina in Mendoza. Hooper will appear before a SANZAR disciplinary hearing on Wednesday this week.
Hooper played provider as lock Dean Mumm went in for a try in the second half, but while in support he was held back by flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez.
As you can see in the footage, Hooper lashed out, making contact with Sanchez, who dropped and needed to be treated for a few minutes after the try.
It wasn't spotted by referee Jaco Peyper or the other officials, so the try stood and Hooper played on. Post match, following initial consideration by the SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Chris Morris, Hooper was cited and will appear at a SANZAR Judicial Hearing, charged with commiting foul play.
Hooper is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking: A player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee(s).
The Judicial Officer will be Nigel Hampton QC which will be held by video conference on Wednesday 29 July at 5:00pm AEST, 7:00pm NZST, 4:00am ART and 9:00am SAST.
While some may feel that street justice is permitted when players get held back illegally, taking the law into your own hands is not allowed. Hooper is likely to receive a significant ban.
Michael Hooper strikes Nicolas Sanchez off the ball
Michael Hooper strike on Nicolas SanchezPosted by Great Rugby Videos on Monday, July 27, 2015
Note: If the above video doesn't work for you, you can see another version here
The Wallabies defeated Argentina 34-9 in Mendoza on Saturday evening, ensuring a blockbuster Rugby Championship showdown against New Zealand in Sydney on Saturday 8 August, following the All Blacks' victory over South Africa.
In a physical and sometimes heated encounter, the Wallabies remained patient and surged home with three second-half tries after leading 8-6 at half time.
Australia will return home equal with New Zealand on nine points on top of The Rugby Championship ladder, with both the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship trophies to go on the line as the trans-Tasman rivals prepare for back-to-back clashes.
"We're very happy with the win. It's always hard to come over here and win. Obviously we slipped up last year over, here so tonight was very good and I’m very proud of the performance," said Wallabies captain Stephen Moore.
"It's going to be a massive game in Sydney at our home ground. We're really looking forward to that, we know that they are a quality side but we have two weeks to prepare.
The Wallabies could be without Michael Hooper following his off the ball indiscretion as Dean Mumm went over for a try. View the details of his citing for striking here.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Richie McCaw scored the winning try in his last ever international on South African soil, as New Zealand came from behind to claim a 27-20 victory in another classic, dramatic Test between the two great rivals at Ellis Park.
As with a week ago against Australia, the Springboks led for most of the match and looked on track for victory, but couldn't close out the game, thus ruining their chances of a Rugby Championship title.
They had the All Blacks on the ropes for a large portion of the match though, with Kiwi coach Steve Hansen commenting that he felt his side was lucky to have things square at 10-10 at the break. "We were very lucky to not be down 30 points, that's how well the Boks played," he said.
Debutant flyhalf Lima Sopoaga kicked three conversions and two penalties as Ben Smith and Dane Coles scored excellent tries for the visitors, before captain McCaw stepped up late in the game with a brilliant lineout variation. When asked about if they'd practiced it a lot during the week, McCaw confirmed it.
"We did. We actually had a debate whether it would be No 9 or myself. So I had to pull rank and say I will take that slot, so I was pretty happy it worked," McCaw said.
The home side have plenty to be positive about, with youngsters Jesse Kriel and Damian Da Allende both having top quality games, while Kriel scored his second try in two Tests, and acted as provider for Willie Le Roux's well taken try.
Injuries and replacements again proved problematic though, disrupting the flow of their game, while for New Zealand their players came on and slotted into the tempo of the match instantly, giving them the edge in the final ten, even after losing Sam Whitelock to the sinbin.
With senior players set to return and talented youngsters having been blooded, this campaign is not all doom and gloom for the Springboks, who were again led valiantly by inspirational Schalk Burger, who played at number eight in the absence of Duane Vermeulen.
"We are doing something right because we are putting teams under pressure," said the stand in South African captain. "We created a lot of opportunities, but we couldn't put them away."
The highlights are down currently but you can view the full match on page two of this post, and reaction from the All Blacks below. Highlights will replace this soon if possible