As Ireland meet Italy at Croke Park on Saturday in the opener of the Six Nations 2008, I thought I'd pull out a clip from a previous meeting between the two sides from 2001.
Five minutes from the end of the encounter, in which Ireland won 41-22, Italian scrum half Alessandro Troncon soured the occasion with an extravagant swinging punch on opposite number Peter Stringer.
Troncon was red carded for his actions, which resulted in the citing committee dishing out a three week ban for the punch which sent Stringer to the floor clutching his face.
We hopefully won't see a repeat of this on Saturday, as both Ireland and Italy need to focus on playing some good rugby, with both sides still having a lot to prove after disappointing World Cup performances.
A while back I reported on French Pro D2 club Toulon, who've got themselves a whole host of current and former international stars.
Victor Matfield is the latest big name who has arrived at the club to much fanfare and media attention. The 2007 World Cup Final Man of the Match has joined Toulon as part of the club presidents goal of joining the Top 14 next season. Lineout dominance, experience, skill, and physical aggression are what make Matfield one of the top Second Rowers in the game today.
Against Racing Metro last weekend Matfield gave the Racing flyhalf a friendly hello with this shoulder after the neat flick pass from the number ten. Matfield got reprimanded by the French referee, being told it was a dangerous tackle.
His response with 'Me?' was probably referring to the next tackle in the movement which was by centre Mafileo Kefu on Greg Goosen. Kefu's tackle was textbook, despite being close to a spear. Driving the player into the ground like that is considered safer than dropping him on his head. That said, Goosens legs did face upwards, which technically makes it a spear tackle in my opinion.
The highly anticipated RBS Six Nations 2008 kicks off on Saturday with Ireland meeting Italy at Croke Park to kick off the tournament.
This years tournament will be intriguing as it's only a few months after the World Cup, a World Cup cup in which certain teams exceeded expectations and others failed miserably.
We're working feverishly to get the Rugbydump Forum up so you can all give your predictions, but until then here is the official launch video for this years Six Nations, with interviews with the captains and coaches.
I've always considered myself somewhat of a Rugby Connoisseur. What that means is that the finer details of this great game have forever been something that has made it really special for me.
Sure, the big hits and the amazing tries are spectacular, but more often than not, what really does it for me is the delicate pieces of skill that separate the average players from the greats.
It's with this in mind that I've dug out this clip of the multi-talented Wallaby flanker George Smith against the All Blacks in 2004.
Those of you who've been able to see Smith play on a regular basis will know that time and time again he pulls off the impossible. If it's not a big hand off and a neat grubber down the line, it's a perfectly timed pass to put a team mate into space.
On this occasion, after Smith's great strength and miracle pass inside the touch judge got it wrong unfortunately, but it's just one example of his fine skill that for me personally, is a delight to watch.
In 2005 the North Hemisphere faced the Southern Hemisphere in an IRB Rugby Aid match at Twickenham. The match was played to raise money for the United Nations World Food Programme to support victims of the of the tragic Indian Ocean Tsunami that wrecked thousands of peoples lives and homes forever.
Top players from around the world were chosen to represent the relevant teams, and a great match was played for a great cause.
The Southern Hemisphere came out tops with a final score of 54-19, with a lot of the Tri Nations players featuring strongly, helped by great performances by Samoans Sititi & Lima.
Over 40 000 people attended the game, and it was a success, reportedly raising over a million pounds for this good cause.
Brian Lima wasn't feeling as charitable though, as Italian wing Mirco Bergamasco soon found out in the worst possible way. The 'Chiropractor' picked on him all day, making Bergamasco wonder what he'd done to deserve that treatment from one of the hardest hitters the games ever seen.
Saracens fullback Brent Russell gets taken to pieces here from this big tackle by Bath's 6ft7 left wing... yes, that's right - 6ft7. Matt Banahan is an up and coming English winger who is bigger than most forwards.
There has been a lot of talk about him being another wing in the mould of a Jonah Lomu. His size and pace make him a valuable asset to any side, but it's in the Sevens arena that Banahan first got noticed.
Banahan used to play hockey but took up rugby in recent years and his since flourished. He started out as a lock, but with his speed and size he soon made the move to the wing and has been making waves ever since.
He scored a hat-trick against Leeds earlier in the season, and will surely fight for higher honours in the not too distant future.
Against pocket rocket Brent Russell, it truly was a mismatch of epic proportions. Watch how Banahan actually tries to get lower to hit him, but just can't and ends up hitting him pretty high in the end. 6ft7 vs 5ft9 shouldn't be allowed.
Butch James also puts in a pretty big hit just before Banahan takes Russell to the cleaners.
French running rugby at it's best is unlike anything else you'll see on the rugby field. Sublime, mesmerising, and unpredictable, when the French teams decide to run with the ball you'd better watch out, because anything can happen.
The French Top 14 league is the premier rugby competition in France, and features the top 14 professional rugby clubs from around the country. These days, the league is attracting a lot of overseas players. This has created a lot of interest and focus on French rugby, particularly this season, with the standards of play being right up there with the best.
This year we've seen some great tries so far, and with that, we've brought you this great clip of the best tries from the current 2008 season.
Big Samoan prop Census Johnston puts the shoulder in on Bath flanker Michael Lipman in yesterdays Guiness Premiership match between Saracens and Bath.
Well timed, but probably not legal, the ref ignored it though. Commentators picked up on the hit though and made a fuss. Great camera work to get some nice replays that make it look a helluva lot like a rugby league hit.
Nice to see big front rankers putting in hits like this. Yes, probably not legal, but spectacular to watch from the safety of the couch nonetheless.
This video has gone missing. If anyone has a clip of it, please get in touch. Thanks.
I received a link to this interesting try from the 1998 Top14 Final between Stade Francais and Perpignan from a guy who was actually at the game ten years ago.
Legendary flyhalf Diego Dominguez's long range penalty kick hits the post and bounces back for Kiwi centre Cliff Mytton, who has followed up the kick like his school coach told him to.
A great example of hard work paying off. He would have chased kicks like this 100 times without anything happening from it. But the one time it really counts, in the final, his luck turns. Nice to see hard work rewarded.
Back in 2005, little Shane Williams had a fantastic Six Nations season as part of the Grand Slam winning Welsh team. Based on this form, Williams was subsequently included as a squad member on the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.
The little Welshman scored five tries in a midweek game against Manawatu in Palmerston North, contributing the Lions' biggest tour victory in New Zealand to date, with the final score clocking in at 109-6.
Williams scored six tries on the tour in total, skinning Kiwis all over the place with his goose-stepping magic and flat-out pace.
It was a forgettable tour for the Lions when it came to the Tests against the All Blacks unfortunately. The hosts proved too strong in the big games. The mid-week matches against the smaller clubs however proved to be a great showcase of skill, speed, and Shane Williams at this best.
The 2004 Super 12 game between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders produced one of the biggest hits ever to be seen on a rugby field. It looked like man against child when Ma'a Nonu lined up Ben Blair and smashed him into next week.
Blair took a while to get up after being flipped onto his back like a rag doll. You'd too after having the wind knocked out of you with a hit like that.
I think commentator Murray Mexted describes it best when watching the replay - 'Would Mr & Mrs Blair please turn the television set off...'
SIDENOTE: We managed to dig this one out of the vaults thanks too it being listed in the Requests section here on RD, so if you think of any other classics please list them there. Also, thanks to the guy who asked for it. Enjoy watching it again. I know I certainly did.
There was plenty of action in this weekend's Heineken Cup matches. The Quarter Finals are now set, with the knockout stages starting up in April again.
This time round, we have even more tries than before & we've once again chosen a pick of the best from the top European games that took place.
Munster vs London Wasps - Denis Leamy Stade Francais vs Harlequins - Julian Arias Glasgow vs Saracens - Bernado Stortoni Leicester vs Leinster - Seru Rabeni Biarritz vs Viadana - Zee Ngwenya Treviso vs London Irish - Benjamin De Jager Toulouse vs Edinburgh - Vincent Clerc Gloucester vs Ulster - Akapusi Qera & Tommy Bowe
When it's as windy, rainy and just plain miserable as it was when Munster hosted Wasps at Thomond Park on Saturday afternoon, it's very difficult for star wingers to shine in the wet conditions.
Doug Howlett is different though. Munster's new signing is always looking for work, which has become a trademark of his game. Not only that, he gives his all in everything he does, as seen here by this fantastic chase to flatten young Wasps wing David Doherty as he catches the ball.
Reminds me of Howlett dealing with the pesky Earl Rose last season. This hit was similar in stature, but was most impressive for the way that Howlett chased so hard and timed the tackle perfectly, keeping it legal all the while.
Watch how Doherty actually bounces off Howlett he got hit so solidly. Great stuff Dougie. It just goes to show that if you're a wing who isn't getting any quality ball, or the conditions aren't suited to you, you can still make an impact.
Leicester vs Leinster at Wellford Road yesterday turned out to be somewhat of a classic. A game full of incident and good rugby, it was marred by a few moments of insanity that are hard to comprehend.
Big English front rower Julian White clearly lost his head after something must have been done to him deep in the trenches of the front row. He lost his cool completely, throwing a few airshots and then lining up big Malcolm O'Kelly and lauching a right hook that would have knocked most mere mortals to the ground.
The human punch-bag O'kelly barely budged, and White got sent to the bin with nothing more than a yellow card. The citing commission is going to be busy this week.
Saracens met Glasgow in a Round 6 Heineken Cup encounter that was played in howling wind and rain on Friday night in Scotland.
Less than 5 minutes into the game Glasgow Warrior Hefin O'Hare nearly profited when Richard Haughton hesitated on defence, hoping a high kick would go out. But, after racing onto the bouncing ball the former rugby league man O'Hare just put a foot in touch and was rightly called back.
The incident seemed to wake the Saracens speedster Haughton up and when Jackson drilled a low kick into the Glasgow touch-in-goal area, it was this time O'Hare's turn to hesitate, as he waited for the ball to run dead.
Haughton used his express pace to hunt down the ball and the Television Match Official ruled he had dived to touch down millimetres inside the line.
I'm not sure if this is more funny or sad. A bit of both probably. Sharks vs Crusaders in Durban, Super 14 last year. The score is tied at 13-13 all, with the Sharks needing to win at home to increase their chances of progressing further in the tournament.
A lovely move between Ryan Kankowski & Jaques Botes creates the opening as Botes goes through, doing all the hard work and popping the ball perfectly for Sharks wing Odwa Ndungane, the twin brother of Springbok Akona, to catch the ball and fall over the line. Simple? Apparently not.
Adding to our archive of Jonah Lomu moments, in these two clips the big man is at his best, showing exactly how devastating he was in his prime.
In the first clip it's the Hurricanes vs the Waratahs, or more like Jonah vs whoever tries to take him on. Not clear if it was called back because it was a knock-on or a shoulder charge, but either way, Kiwi commentator Murray Mexted thinks there's 'Nothing wrong with it'.
Listen out for the sound as the tank hits the Waratahs player.
In the next clip Rod Kafer learns a lesson that many players before and after him learnt - don't get in Jonah's way when he's at full tilt.
Last year at the USA edition of the IRB Sevens World Series we saw some fantastic action which produced some of the biggest hits and best tries seen in Sevens for a while. This year the action will take place on the 9th & 10th of Feb at the ideally situated PETCO Park in San Diego.
With the support and attendance for the tournament growing each year, the festival atmosphere is something worth experiencing if you've never been before.
Watch 16 of the world's best rugby sevens teams playing in 44 matches over the course of the weekend . I personally won't be able to make it, but some of the Rugbydump team will be there, as well as a few players who will be sporting the Rugbydump Merchandise, so look out for that.
In this clip you'll see some of the best tries from last year, including that massive hit by Todd Clever against Kenya, a swinging arm on Ryno Benjamin, and most importantly some of the incredible tries that show exactly why Rugby Sevens is such an exciting form of the game.
The Tries in order are: 1. Fiji vs. New Zealand | 2. Kenya vs. Australia | 3. Samoa vs. France | 4. New Zealand vs. Canada | 5. Fiji vs. Samoa (tournament final) | 6. England vs. USA | 7. France vs. Canada | 8. USA vs. Kenya | 9. Samoa vs. Fiji (tournament final) | 10. USA vs. England | 11. South Africa vs. Fiji | 12. England vs. New Zealand.
Visit usasevens.comto get your tickets, more info about the tournament, and a little bit more about San Diego.
There were some great tries scored in Round 5 of the Heineken Cup this past weekend. We've got a pick of some of the better ones for those of you who didn't have a chance to watch the games or catch the highlights.
Cardiff Blues vs Harlequins - Dafydd Hewitt Leinster vs Toulouse - Luke Fitzgerald & Yves Donguy Saracens vs Biarritz - Rob Penney Ospreys vs Gloucester - Shane Williams, Rory Lawson & Ryan Lamb London Wasps vs Llanelli Scarlets - David Doherty & Dominic Waldouk
In an incident packed Heineken Cup encounter in France yesterday, Munster were narrowly defeated by Clermont Auvergne 26 points to 19, with Munster picking up a late bonus point for being within seven.
Referee Rob Debney was the centre of attention after dishing out three yellow cards to home players, but missing out on this terrible incident.
I've just seen the incident myself, and it looks pretty bad. Jerry Flannery lifted his leg then brought it down on French back-rower Julien Bonnaire's head.
It may well have been accidental, with Flannery attempting to free his leg from the grip of one of the other Clermont players. But, accidental or not, it caused some damage, and if the citing committee sees it as the malicious stamping that some people are calling it, Flannery may well miss the start of Irelands Six Nations Campaign.
After only 15 starts for the Leicester Tigers, Tom Croft has been included in Brian Ashton's 32 man England squad for the upcoming Six Nations after some stirling performances that display the kind of potential that could make him an international star in years to come.
Only 22 years old, Croft has incredible pace, handling skills and strength. Croft has already earned the respect of his Tigers team-mate Martin Corry, a man who knows a thing or two about playing flanker for England.
"England have never really had his sort of player - he looks lean but he's very strong, very quick and very skilful," said Corry.
Tigers' forwards coach Richard Cockerill has indirectly made claims that Croft is quicker than speedsters Alesana Tuilagi and Seru Rabeni. “He’s probably the second quickest player in our squad after Tom Varndell.”
Despite all the praise he's been receiving, Croft's call up to the England squad took him by surprise.
"It was a big shock," he said. "I knew the papers had been talking about me being in the squad, but I expected to be in the Saxons team really. But this is brilliant." "I am not in the team yet, but it will be a great experience anyway."
Last weekend in the Guiness Premiership he finished off to cracking Leicester tries against the Harlequins, showing once again that he's a tremendously exciting player with great awareness and the skills of a back.
In front of a World Record attendance of 109,874 in July 2000, Stadium Australia witnessed one of the greatest games of rugby to ever be played.
The All Blacks vs the Wallabies in Bledisloe One will forever be remembered for the epic nature of a contest that was an incredible advert for rugby. It was a thrilling game that went back and forward until literally the last minute, and beyond.
New Zealand got off to a fyling start with stars like Christian Cullen, Jonah Lomu and Tana Umaga terrorizing the Aussies with some quickfire tries, taking the score to 24-0 after 6 minutes.
Australia staged a remarkable come back though thanks in part to two Stirling Mortlock tries and by half time the scores were equal at 24-24.
After the break the Aussies took the lead with a penalty, before Justin Marshall scored a brilliant individual effort that knocked the wind out of the rejuvenated Aussies' sails.
When Jeremy Paul scored for the Wallabies with time almost up, it looked like they had pulled off a memorable comeback that the record home crowd would celebrate for years to come. It looked as though the game would end 35-34, with the courageous Wallabies coming out on top.
Superstar Jonah Lomu put a dampener on the Australian celebrations though, scoring a dramatic late try that came from an excellent pass over the top by Taine Randell. The big man got the space he needed and brushed off flyhalf Stephen Larkham's attempted tackle with ease, going over to clinch victory and see his team finish off what they started in the first 6 minutes of the game.
One of the games of the century, this Tri Nations classic will be remembered for years to come as a fiercely contested battle that went back and forth for the full 82 mins.
Leicester and England flanker Martin Corry has announced his retirement from international rugby, shortly before the Six Nations is due to start.
The 34 year old Corry was due to be named in the English squad for the upcoming tournament, but turned down coach Brian Ashton's invitation, citing the fact that there are a huge number of young, talented loose forwards coming through the ranks and he feels it's time to step aside. England need to rebuild, and Corry acknowledges that he won't be around for the next World Cup, so now is the time to let the young talent come through.
A well respected individual who off the field is a great man, and on the field always gave one hundred percent for his country. His non-compromising style of play and great talent made him one of the better performers in recent England rugby history. He will be sorely missed and a great loss to the country, despite the young guns knocking on the door.
Corry has toured with the British & Irish Lions, been a World Cup winner with England in 2003, and currently captains the Leicester Tigers club.
And that is where Corry will be focussing all his attention now, stating that he feels he owes them his full commitment and cannot maintain the same high level of play while playing for both club and country.
“It’s just a shame I am getting old,” he said. “If I could carry on for the next 10 years, I would because I genuinely love playing for Leicester and England. “Unfortunately, I just can’t keep doing it all. Something has to give if I want to keep playing to the required standard.”
In the below clip, against the Sale Sharks recently, he bumped off Magnus Lund with a big carry after fielding the 22 drop-out, then went on to take the next two balls forward around the fringes.
He was also heavily involved in Tom Croft's second try vs the Harlequins on the weekend, showing that he still has all the skills required to play at the top.
Another few years to stay in the camp to guide the youngsters, or is now the right time to step down from international duty?
Takudzwa 'Zee' Ngwenya was probably the most talked about player at the recent Rugby World Cup 2007. His try against the Springboks when he ran around Bryan Habana created a huge amount of hype, and was later named IRB Try Of The Tournament.
Ngwenya was inundated with phonecalls, interviews and received overs from a few clubs in Europe. He later chose to sign with French Top 14 team Biaritz and if all goes well, his star will continue to rise.
I watched him play for them on the weekend, and there's no doubt that he has electric feet. Whenever he got the ball there was a buzz and he managed to normally step past the first defender. I do feel he still needs to work on other aspects of his game though - his hands being one of them. But that will come with time and experience.
Before heading to Biaritz though he managed to travel with his country's Sevens team to the George leg of the IRB Sevens last month.
Against Canada, in the same game that we saw this huge hit, Ngwenya came on fresh off the bench. With literally his first touch of the ball he scored.
The large crowd who were keen to see him in action weren't disappointed, and with his little inside out, he's shown that he's no one try wonder.
Leicester pummelled Harlequins 42-13 on Sunday in a game that saw the Tigers burying the home side, aided by the 'Quins poor defence and scrappy passing. Tom Varndell scored a hatrick and Tom Croft finished off two crackers.
Varndell's first try was a beauty. Andy Goode, going left pulled off a 'banana kick' par excellence, with the speedster Varndell chasing and easily catching to go over for the try.
For years we've seen Carlos Spencer (the creator of the unpredictable banana kick) putting Doug Howlett through for tries like this, for both the Auckland Blues and the All Blacks. Spencer perfected it, and with a speedster running the correct line, it's very difficult to defend against.
Andy Goode is another that seems to have perfected it, and justifiably so. Talented flyhalf, incredibly fast wing - 'Lets give it a go'.
Nice to see Tom Varndell making good on all his promise. I think we'll be seeing a lot more of him this season.
UPDATE: After many requests, I've added the Varndell Hatrick here instead of just the one try. Enjoy.
Known more for his incredible kicking success rate lately, Chris Paterson showed on Saturday that he still has plenty of gas in the tank by scoring this great 50 metre try vs Bath.
Paterson came on as a replacement for Ryan Lamb and with his first touch of the ball made an immediate impact. His outside break leaving the tiring Bath defence in his wake, causing the match leaders a bit of a scare with this sensational individual try.
The game could have changed from there, with the score at 10-5, but Paterson, the man who didn't miss a kick in the World Cup, ironically hit the post. Gloucester just didn't have what it took to come back and Bath came out tops.
Fantastic try, especially considering the muddy conditions, and once again it goes to show that there is no substitute for pace.
Matthew Tait scored a stunning try and helped save a certain five pointer as his team fought out a narrow victory over rivals Saracens last weekend.
Tait, who famously started his career as a young eighteen year old who got absolutely humiliated by Gavin Henson, is now coming into his own and proving to be a classy centre with a huge future ahead of him.
Against Saracens the Flacons started well and in the third minute Tait received a beautifully timed pass from another quality youngster, Toby Flood.
Tait timed the angle of his run perfectly and headed for the corner, outpacing the extremely quick Brent Russell, leaving him for dead in much the same way the Springbok management have.
The second moment of excellence from Tait came after big All Black lock Chris Jack had a mesmerising run down field before popping the ball to Rodd Penney who looked to have flown in for a certain try, despite the tackles of Tait and Wilkinson.
Tait somehow got himself between the ball and the turf though, and after the TMO decision, it was clear to see the try had been prevented. Great play Matthew Tait.
This week's Friday Funny comes from the Super 12 a few years back.
Deon Kayser gets the better of former team mate Robbie Fleck after Fleckie broke through the line and was away for the try. Fleck casually strolls in, not realising that the rapid Kayser is right behind him.
Kayser effected the tackle brilliantly, knocking the ball out of Flecks hands and causing him to nose dive into the turf, causing some people to coin the phrase, 'The Fleck Flack'.
Great chase by Kayser who always gave his best when playing for EP, the Sharks and the Boks.
The lesson from this one - this is rugby and you have to put the ball down to score, as Fleck will keep telling himself when he wakes up with cold sweats thinking about this night after night.
For a while now I've been trying to track down the best tries scored by forwards of the chubbier sort - Props. We've managed to get hold of quite a few, but in all honesty, this one for me takes the cake... so to speak.
Trevor Woodman MBE, the World Cup winner who lifted the trophy with England four years ago, played his rugby at Gloucester for nine years before moving up north to Sale. He unfortunately had to retire prematurely due to a nagging back injury sustained in training.
Woodman achieved great things in his career though, with the World Cup win in 2003 being the main highlight obviously. But when Gloucester played the Saints only a few months later, Woodman set the game alight by scoring an amazing solo effort.
With the score tied at 17-17, the ball was swung to the out of position Woodman who, with all the confidence in the world, attacked the line as though he were a centre of international quality.
The rest is history.
Stuart Barnes, ex international player and now commentator, chose it as the Try of the Week.
"One stride short of 40 metres from the Northampton line, the front rower eyed the gap - a gap that didn't exist until two abrupt hand-offs had despatched the Saints hooker and fly-half unceremoniously to the Gloucester dirt.
"I swear there was a hint of a sidestep to unbalance the full-back before a third resounding fend left Beal eating grass and the Shed doing cartwheels. It was some score."
Amazing try and possibly the most amazing try by a prop forward that we have here on Rugbydump. Click the label down below to view the others. This is undoubtedly one of my favourites.