The Scott Quinnell Crossbar Challenge is back this week, this time, visiting Bristol Rugby. We recently featured the first ever episode of this Rugby Club feature in which Quinnell visited the Northampton Saints.
At the Saints, it was only Sean Lamont and Dylan Hartley who made the challenge, but neither could beat Quinnell in the next round.
Bristol provided a slightly stiffer challenge, with one or two rather amusing throwing techniques. So whereas the Saints competition came from a hooker and a wing, this time around it was a lock who took on Quinnell.
We'll continue to feature this weekly, where possible. Enjoy.
A few days ago we featured a fantastic covering tackle from the flying prop Matt Mullan on James Hook which took place in the Ospreys vs Worcester match from Sunday. In the same game, Ospreys center Gavin Henson crossed the tryline, and we've had a few requests to see that try.
Henson, who was returning for only his second start since an operation on his right ankle last April, and after a short two week Ospreys imposed ban for missing training, showed us glimpses of the class that those who've followed his career have come to expect.
He was put into the gap nicely by James Hook, but then dished out a fantastic step that had Wallaby fullback Chris Latham stuck dead on his heels.
“There was a moment of magic with James Hook’s pass to Gavin that put him into the midfield hole, but he still had a lot to do,” said Ospreys coach Sean Holley.
“Gavin showed his fitness and sharpness and it was great to see him finish off like that.”
Holley’s comments were backed up by Worcester coach Mike Ruddock.
“Gavin looked good,” said Ruddock, who had Henson in his Grand Slam winning side of 2005.
“He looked sharp and strong on his feet.
“He was very balanced and made some impressive line breaks.
“Gavin is only going to get better when he has more games under his belt.”
If Henson stays fit, injury free, and out of 'trouble', we'll be sure to see more quality play from him in the upcoming few months.
Magners League leaders and Heineken Cup champions Munster were stunned by bottom of the table Ulster on Saturday, as they were defeated convincingly 22-6 at Ravinhill.
We got to see yet another young Fijian Flyer stamp his authority on the game, this time in the form of former police constable Timoci Nagusa.
Nagusa crossed the line twice in the first half as his team got off to a handy lead and maintained it through an Isaac Boss second half try.
Paddy Wallace’s inside ball to Nagusa in the twenty fifth minute gave the rapid right wing enough space to accelerate through the gap and go over for a well taken try.
His powerful run shortly after that resulted in another try, this one showing impressive speed as he pulled away from all would-be defenders.
Nagusa has signed with Ulster until 2010 and in only his first year as a senior professional player, is looking to improve and grow as a player with the valuable experience he’s picking up. He appeared for Fiji earlier this year, scoring two tries in his first match.
The young man, who hails from the largest island in Fiji, spoke afterwards of how the birth of his nephew gave him confidence ahead of the match.
“Before I left home, my sister phoned me and she had just given birth and she said it was a boy and she had named him after me,” said Nagusa. “I felt so great driving to Ravenhill. And after tonight they will celebrating at home, drinking cava.”
Both tries were excellently taken, showing the killer instinct and sheer gas needed to make it at the top. The win for Ulster was superb, and the performance by Nagusa, was impressive to say the least. Here’s hoping we’ll see more great things from this exciting prospect throughout the season.
The Ospreys put in a more convincing effort this past weekend as they clinched a crucial home victory over the Worcester Warriors at the Liberty Stadium. The four tries to one, 37-22 win puts themselves in reach for the EF Energy Cup semi finals.
Gavin Henson scored a nice try for the home side, but one of the moments of the match, and perhaps even the season, came from an unlikely source that is better known for the grunt work up front.
As the Ospreys threw it around, flyhalf James Hook found himself in space down the right wing, with what looked to be a fairly regulation canter down field for another try.
Young English prop Matt Mullan had other ideas though as he sprinted all of 50 yards to ultimately chase down and tackle Hook into touch. The covering forced Hook into tough, denying him the try, and made those at the ground and those watching live, stand up and take notice.
"That was a fantastic effort," said his coach, Mike Ruddock.
"I had a text message from an old front-row acquaintance of mine after the game, asking who the hell Matt Mullan might be. As a matter of fact, we've been talking about Matt as a potential England prop for some time now.
“He's scrummaged well against Matt Stevens and Phil Vickery, and he is able to do so much more about the field, he is phenomenal. It was a fantastic effort. He made 18 tackles for us in a recent game. Not all of them like that one, mind you."
Time: 02:53 Note: This footage includes a nice try scored by Sam Tuitupou too, and then shows the Mullan try-saver. We'll try get a cleaner version soon if possible.
The Natal Sharks lifted the Currie Cup on Saturday for the first time in 12 years as they beat the Blue Bulls 14-9 in a tight and physical contest in Durban at a packed Absa Stadium (Kingspark).
The home side were deserved winners, outscoring the Blue Bulls by two tries to nil. The home crowd were on the edge of their seats with less than a minute to go though, as the Bulls had possession and looked like they were on their way to repeating the last gasp win in the Super 14 final of 2007.
The Sharks held on, and the Kingspark faithfal erupted as the star studded side finally achieved what many of them have been targeting for so long.
Comeback king Stefan Terblanche, perhaps the forgotten man of SA rugby had a sterling season at fullback and was unlucky to be excluded from the Sprinbok squad announcement that followed the match. He himself confessed that the long wait was well worth it, with winning the Currie Cup being one of his lifelong dreams.
That dream kicked into action twenty three minutes in when Ruan Pienaar’s typical dart for the line resulted in a handy seven point cushion. The second Sharks try came from some fancy footwork by Frederic Michalak and composed class by Terblanche, as they sent Francois Steyn diving over for the try.
Morne Steyn kept things close with two penalties and a drop goal, but it was the Sharks who held on to win in a most memorable of finals, perhaps not so much for the running display of both sides, but for the pure grunt and commitment shown all round.
Michalak himself, if we’re not mistaken, is now only the second Frenchman (after Thierry Lacroix in 1996) to win both a Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere championship.
Please note:To those wondering why the Currie Cup (and Air NZ Cup) coverage has been scarce on here as of late, it’s because the rights holders have told us we’re not allowed to embed the footage any more. So for the final we’ve found a link to highlights instead.
Apologies for the extra click, but we figured some of you would appreciate it, rather than nothing at all.
After another busy weekend of rugby, we're still getting our ducks in a row so figured we'd stick up this fun clip for now, the series of which we're hoping to feature regularly as the season continues.
Former British & Irish Lion Scott Quinnell will be competing in a new feature on the Rugby Club as he looks to take on all challengers in the Guinness Premiership with the rugby version of the Crossbar Challenge.
The test of distance and accuracy comes about from Quinnell’s natural ability to throw the ball through the posts from the ten meter line.
The former Wales number 8 is looking to take on all before him, as he travels around the country seeing who has what it takes to to throw the ball from 40 metres, over the uprights and between the posts, in one attempt.
"I'm confident that my arm is still very much the one to beat; I've been practicing my quarterback throwing, and it's great fun heading to the clubs and taking on the boys on their home turfs. I'm determined to show them how it's done!"
In the first episode we see Quinnell at the Northampton Saints, taking on a team that clearly has a helluva lot of team spirit and more than a few characters in the squad.
We won’t tell you what happens, but what we will say is that if this clip is enjoyed by all, we’ll do what we can to feature it on a weekly basis.
Big Samoan hooker Trevor Leota was red carded on the weekend for his huge hit in the Top 14 as Mont-de-Marsan and Biarritz battled it out at Satde Guy-Boniface.
It was a first victory away from home for Biarritz, thanks in part to an excellent second half. The 33-6 bonus point win ended a terrible run of 12 consecutive away losses.
USA winger Zee Ngwenya got on the scoresheet with a well taken try from a pinpoint kick by Dimitri Yachvili. Another from Damien Traille and some accurate goalkicking from Yachvili later on sealed the win.
With ten minutes to go in the game former Wasps and Freestate hooker Leota was red carded for this terrible looking hit on Nicolas Brusque. Leota is famed for being an uncompromising hooker, and is one of the hardest tacklers around.
Brusque can now testifty to that, as he was taken in the air with this clothesline that really did look more WWE than rugby. The referee made the judgement that Leota wasn't playing the ball, but simply wanted to destroy Brusque. I'd say he wasn't too far off.
Emotions ran high on Friday night as players, fans, and dignitaries bid farewell to a rugby stadium that was more than just a venue to Llanelli fans, it was a home. Stradey Park first opened 129 years ago, but will now be pulled down as the Scarlets will move to a new, modernized stadium. Friday night was the last ever game there as they took on Bristol in the EDF Energy Cup.
It was a fitting sendoff to the legendary theatre of Welsh rugby as the Scarlets won 27-0, adding to the sense of occasion on this most historic of nights.
Stradey Park has played host to some of the finest games ever seen, and been home to some of the games greatest players. Welsh legends such as Phil Bennett, Gareth Jenkins, Ray Gravell, JJ Williams, the Quinnell family, Phil Davies, Ieun Evans, and Stephen Jones, to name a few, have all graced the field at Stradey.
The stadium will now be demolished and a high density housing development will be built over it. A small garden of remembrance will be preserved at the site to acknowledge the legends that played there, and the fans whose ashes have been scattered on the pitch over the years.
The move to the new Parc y Scarlets stadium is much needed, but it didn’t make it any easier on the faithful fans and ex-players to whom Stradey was so much a part of their lives.
“Maybe I’m old-fashioned and should move with the times but it will be a sad day for me,” said Delme Thomas, captain of the team which beat the All Blacks in 1972.
“Yes, you have to move with the times; I understand that. But Stradey has so much history attached to it and to think they’re going to build houses there, I can’t grasp it.”
Legendary fly-half Phil Bennett said: "I was privileged to have changed in that dressing room and run on to that field with some of the greatest players in world rugby history and that will make me a very satisfied man.”
"I played in a game in 1972 and beat the All Blacks 9-3. That's gone down in folklore and for me that eclipses Grand Slams and Triple Crowns - for me that's the greatest ever game at Stradey Park."
Not too long ago, a player would only play for one club, and that is where his heart was. As a neutral, you can’t help but respect the legacy that is Stradey Park, and can only hope that with the new move we see the old traditions, family atmosphere, and spirit of the old ground carried over, and live on forever.
This short clip features stirring footage of the great moments of the past, including victories over the All Blacks and Australia, and leads up to and includes Friday night. The final voice heard on the clip is that of Carwyn James, former Welsh player, Llanelli coach and the man who famously coached the 1971 British and Irish Lions to a series victory in New Zealand.
Time: 02:57 Further reading and footage available here
Earlier this week we featured highlights from what was probably the game of the weekend, Cardiff Blues vs Gloucester from the Millenium Stadium.
Besides all the tries, which you can see here, there was some tremendous physicality on show from both sides, with a handful of big hits adding to the spectacle.
Cardiff Blues front rower Gethin Jenkins had a tussle with Italian international Carlos Nieto all match. The two heavyweights scrummed down against each other, which was a battle in itself, and early in the first half Jenkins got one up on his man.
It wasn't a powerful scrum though, it was in open field that Jenkins flew into Nieto with this fantastic hit. The massive side-on hit with the shoulder had a huge impact, actually causing damage and discomfort to Jenkins for some time afterwards.
It's not often that we get to see the fatties have a go one-on-one like that, so this was great to see, even if Nieto didn't really know that the contest was actually taking place.
This week's Friday Funny is slightly different to the norm in that it actually comes from a tv quiz show about sport. The clip involves Harlequins and England flyer David Strettle, as well as former England scrum half Matt Dawson.
A Question of Sport features two teams of sports stars who get quizzed on not only their own sport, but other sports too. As part of the format of the show, the contestants will at one stage get something called a 'home' question, which is a question about their particular sport of profession.
It's common knowledge that it's one of the easiest questions on the show, as in theory you should know a lot about your own sport.
When it came to Strettle being asked a fairly simple and seemingly straightforward question about rugby and another flying winger, Strettle was flummoxed.
While not trying to make a complete arse of him, as on the field we think the man is fantastic to watch, we couldn't help but get a laugh out of this and thought some of you would too.
Do yourself a favour and pause the clip directly after the question is asked. Then see how long it takes you to answer. In theory you, as a rugby fan, should get it fairly quickly. We would have thought the same about Strettle though, but perhaps hampered by the pressure of pesky Dawson, he surprised us, making for some rather funny viewing.
An entertaining match took place at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday evening in the European Challenge Cup. Northampton Saints played host to Montpellier, who’s night went horribly pear shaped as they had two players red carded, and conceded over fifty points.
It was a convincing 51-7 win for the Saints as first half tries from Scott Gray, Joe Ansbro and a penalty try allowed the Saints to command the game, with Chris Ashton gaining the bonus-point in the 56th minute. Scores from Soane Tongauiha and Paul Diggen sealed victory.
Montpellier were at one stage playing with 12 players on the field as the they had two players red carded, and two minutes from time, another picked up a yellow.
Captain Julien Tomas was red carded for his alleged punch that took place during a nasty looking tangle with fiery young Saints hooker Dylan Hartley. A minute earlier there was another scuffle, and at that point it looked as though something was about to give.
The clearing Hartley arm to the face of Tomas was the spark that ignited the fuse, and we saw a bit of fisty cuffs break out, resulting in the aggrieved looking Tomas being picked out for landing punches.
Late in the game, hooker Fabian Rofes was given a red card for stamping as he carelessly trod on Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe. The referee had no hesitation in sending him off, compounding Montpellier’s misery.
Saints captain Bruce Reihana spoke afterwards regarding the cool heads required by his team.
"It is hard, because when you get a bit of confrontation like that you have got to stand up for yourself. But you have to almost take it on the chin and be disciplined enough not retaliate because we certainly didn’t want any yellow or red cards for the boys. A lot of the guys managed to handle it pretty well.
"It is a man's game and when you get hit, the normal reaction is to hit back, but we're trying to retaliate by putting points on the scoreboard."
Cardiff Blues and Gloucester met at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday for a match that attracted the sixth largest crowd ever for a Heineken Cup Pool match. The Blues secured a crucial bonus point-win as they took the honours in this classic match by 37-24.
A day after a couple of dismal European matches, this game lifted the spirits again as the 27,114 crowd witnessed the Blues storm to a famous triumph, aided by tries from Leigh Halfpenny, Gareth Thomas, and Nicky Robinson.
Blues number 8 Andy Powell produced a Man of the Match performance, and has since been rewarded with a place in the Welsh squad. He Is joined by young flyer Halfpenny, who picked up two tries on the day.
"Gloucester really laid it on the table but the boys stood up and got the result. You have to win your home games and this was our best performance of the year,” Powell said afterwards.
It was a splendid attacking spectacle all round, and a fantastic match for the neutral. The try of the game came from a superb Ben Blair step that saw him carve through the defence before offloading to a supporting Jamie Robinson. Gareth Thomas was there to take the final pass as he crossed for a memorable Blues five pointer.
As per a request, we’ve got all the tries up for you from this classic Heineken Cup encounter that was played out at the forever impressive Millennium Stadium.
In one of the more enjoyable games of the weekend, title holders Munster fought off a brave fight back as they picked up the 24-16 away win over Sale Sharks on Sunday in the Heineken Cup.
New Zealander Lifeimi Mafi had a standout game as he continued to impress in the Munster midfield. His 40th minute hit was that of legend. Not because it looked overly spectacular, but because it was absolutely bonejarring, on a far bigger man.
A brilliant breakout run from another Kiwi, Luke McAlister, saw him glide downfield before popping a neat little inside pass to his support.
The ball was recycled and a rampaging Frenchman named Sebastian Chabal was stopped dead in his tracks as Mafi’s rib tickler left the The Caveman on his knees, puffing in the big ones.
Coach Tony McGahan was full of praise for the manner in which the team, and particularly Mafi, defended.
"He pulled off a couple of real turning points, we got turnovers on the back of them and we gathered momentum and it had a real focus for us."
Unfortunately Mafi’s second big tackle, as featured here, was deemed illegal as he lifted and dropped the Sale replacement. The technique initially was spot on and looked great, but he was warned for the manner in which he dumped him.
In the last ten minutes of the game, Mafi was yellow carded for a high tackle on Matthew Tait that could probably be best described as a stiffarm. In isolation he may have gotten away with staying on the field, but the ref cited his earlier warning as reason enough to send him to the cooler for the remainder of the game.
The Ospreys and Perpignan met at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday for what turned out to be a highly uninspiring game of Heineken Cup rugby. The star studded home team managed to win 15-9, but it was anything but impressive.
The only real talking point of the match, besides the dull factor, would be the 30th minute punch from Ospreys prop Paul James. The front rower was lucky to stay on the field after flooring Romanian hooker Marius Tincu with a swinging forearm/punch that looked to have landed square in the jaw.
Neither Wayne Barnes, nor either one of his assistant referees spotted the incident, therefore James got away with it, while Tincu lay dazed on the turf.
Ospreys coach Sean Holley has since voiced his concern regarding marks around the eyes of some of his players. When asked directly if his players had been gouged though, his response was more guarded.
“I am not saying it is eye-gouging, but it is something that has increased in the game in the last year or so."
Something clearly provoked the Ospreys prop. It’s difficult to see on the video, but the reality of it is that he will no doubt be cited and suspended within the next day or so.
Leinster were as impressive as ever as they thumped London Wasps at the RDS on Saturday, earning themselves a valuable bonus point victory against a struggling outfit that have lost six matches out of eight this season.
Brian O’Driscoll, who had a great game last week, limped off with a ill-timed knee injury at half time, but not before he managed to cross the tryline twice as Leinster raced off to a great start.
While it was a commanding display throughout, the pick of the Leinster tries was probably this O’Driscoll masterpiece that he managed to create down the right wing.
His first chip and chase was executed perfectly before kicking it again, mid-air, he then re-gathered on the full just before falling over for a fantastic try.
The injury that saw him leave the match at halftime was disappointing, as this week we once again saw glimpses of the O'Driscoll magic of old.
Coach Michael Cheika played down the injury after the match.
"The injury doesn't look too serious. Brian has taken a knock on his knee, and we made the decision to take him off at half-time."
Other news has since confirmed that it is actually a knee ligament injury though, and possibly more serious than originally thought. We’ll update this article with the latest injury status as it happens.
Brive were impressive on Thursday night as an Andy Goode inspired performance saw them beating the Newcastle Falcons by 36-22 in the European Challenge Cup.
The Stade Municipal fans were on their feet within 45 seconds of kick-off as a Falcons error under the high ball meant that Brive found themselves deep in the opposition half.
The ball was swung to former Leicester Tigers kingpin Goode, who showed a superb bit of composure and class as his deft kick over the defence allowed South African Ronnie Cooke to dive onto it for the try.
Goode had a fantastic night as he kicked 21 points for his new club and created two of his team's three tries.
The loss for Newcastle means that despite being at the top of Pool Four by way of having scored more tries than Brive, they'll be under added pressure as they travel to Parma next month, having not won away in ten months.
The camera angles on this try aren't brilliant unfortunately, but the kick and the dive combined make for a lovely piece of finishing, and a wonderful display of skill by the two players involved.
A week back, as the Heineken Cup was about to kick off, we posted a Sky tv advert for the tournament that featured a rather different way of portraying the cities of Europe, and rugby in general.
The video stirred debate for various reasons, and mention was made of this inspirational advert from 2007 that featured actor Stephen Berkoff.
The ad is a remake of the well known Inches speech by Al Pacino in the film Any Given Sunday. It's been adjusted for rugby, and features some classic images from past Heineken Cup matches.
With this weekend's action already under way, we thought it would be a good time to stick this ad up and see what the opinions are. I think most will agree it's nicely done, even if it's roots aren't in rugby.
We've become accustomed to commentators making the odd peculiar comment over the years in the world of rugby. They're generally a highly criticised, pretty boring bunch who can at best make a game really enjoyable, or at worst, make it down right boring.
Former England Hooker Brian Moore has become famed for being brutally honest and saying what he pleases when commentating the big games. Loved by some, despised by others, Moore's commentary style is anything but dull.
Back in 2004 when England played Scotland in the Six Nations, Moore got himself in hot water over a comment he made about an altercation between Danny Grewcock and Andrew Henderson.
The BBC received a total of ten complaints after Moores 'gay slap' comment was used to describe the ineffectual blow by Henderson. They said the phrase violated guidelines concerned with “hurtful or inaccurate stereotypes.”
Funny to some, offensive to others, this bit of commentary history will now be part of our archives. We're pretty sure it isn't the last time Moore will be featured either.
Bath were left wondering what could have been on Sunday as they missed out on a victory that was in the bag right up until the last ten seconds. But it was not to be as Toulouse flyhalf David Skrela slotted a winning penalty that had the 35 000 strong home crowd on their feet, and the Bath players and fans stunned.
In a game that was as much absorbing and tense as it was exciting at the end, Bath could have and should have come out on top after getting themselves in a winning position with very little time left.
Nick Abendanon was named man of the match, three minutes too early though as his try had looked to break French hearts. With two minutes to go, Bath were ahead by one and even with the missed conversion attempt by Butch James, looked as if they were in stall for a famous victory.
But, it went horribly wrong as their attempts to wind down the clock failed and they somehow coughed up the ball, handing Toulouse one last chance at cracking the line.
Toulouse attacked down the right wing, and a last gasp tackle by Butch James saved the try, but gave away a vital penalty with time up.
David Skrela stepped forward with the clock showing 80 minutes.
He judged the wind perfectly, and while the groans from the crowd had you thinking it was going wide, it cut back at the last possible moment, snatching a last gasp win that shattered Bath hearts.
Incidentally, Byron Kelleher was cited for the stamp on Butch James’ legs at that last ruck. He has since been cleared though, as the commission found him not guilty.
The first test of the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2005 was overshadowed by the highly controversial and much documented spear tackle on Brian O'Driscoll. Just one minute into the game, the Lions lost their pivotal center and captain, which looked to have an effect on the outcome of the game, and perhaps even the tour.
Daniel Carter kicked two penalties before an Ali Williams try, and then shortly into the second half we saw this classic score that extended the lead even further.
Aaron Mauger broke the line and offloaded excellently to the supporting Tana Umaga, who then threw a fantastic long pass out to Sitiveni Sivivatu, who stepped inside to finish superbly.
Sivivatu, playing in only his second test for the All Blacks, went on to score again in the next test. His stepping off either foot was, and still is, incredibly potent with defenders back tracking.
As for the pass from Tana Umaga, it showed pure class, allowing his winger to run onto the ball in space. Great vision, and a wonderful try all round. The converted kick followed, taking the final score of the First Test to 21-3 to the home team.
The Midweek Madness clip for you today is a short piece of footage from a long time ago. To be perfectly frank, we don't know anything about it, except that it looked pretty painful for the guy on the receiving end. Older footage is always great in that it lets us see elements of the game as it was played way back when. This clip is by no means a great example of that, but we figured we'd show it anyway.
The year and the teams involved are unknown to us. In fact, we don't know much about it at all, except that it sounds like the guy taking the knock is Regan, and he's hit with the flying knee by Crampton, knocking him out cold.
The commentator is clearly incensed, but then we hear a rather amused sounding voiceover comment from Brian Moore.
Note the hair of the winger who comes to his aid. If anyone reading this still has that hairstyle, we want a photo of it, and a subsequent 'shavathon' for charity.
With a lot of talk around citings this week, namely in the Heineken Cup, it makes one wonder what the punishment for this 'tackle' was back then. Or, if the guy was even punished at all?
If anyone has any thoughts on that or knows any more about the clip, feel free to let us know.
Bath came within seconds of pulling off a famous away victory over Toulouse on Sunday, but were denied at the end by a late David Skrela penalty kick. The match itself was a classic European encounter, memorable for more than a handful of stand out incidents.
Bath wing Matt Banahan impressed, and it's two pieces of action from him that we've chosen to show you today.
We've featured Banahan a few times here on RD, and as with previous clips, this time is no different in that we see the man-mountain putting in a storming charge, as well as a crunching hit.
Yves Donguy of Toulouse is the unfortunate player tasked with tackling Banahan on this occasion, and as you can see, he's no match for the 6ft7 giant from Jersey.
Later in the half fullback Maxime Medard then received a horrible floating pass that he looked to flick on. He messed up the flick, but more painfully, exposed his ribs and received a crunching hit from the 110kg wing.
We'll try get other incidents up from the match over the next few days.
Leinster got their Heineken Cup campaign off to a successful start on Saturday afternoon as they notched up a 27-16 bonus point win over Edinburgh at Murrayfield.
Australian Rocky Elsom, who was playing in his first ever Heineken Cup match, picked up the Heineken Man of the Match award, in part due to his fine solo try. Beating the tackles was the first step, but the speed he showed to pull away and keep the lead was impressive.
Center Brian O’Driscoll, who’s been below par in the past year or so, looked to come back to form as he sparked the midfield with typical BOD style runs, and himself got on the end of a nice break from Felipe Contepomi. The try itself was fuelled with controversy though as it looked to have come from an earlier forward pass.
The good news for Leinster fans is that O’Driscoll showed a few moments of pure class, the type of which we’re seeing from the man once hailed as the best center in the world. Importantly, he’s looking in good shape too.
“I've lost a few pounds. I was too, not muscle bound, but I was too heavy last year. I was carrying a bit but I was probably eating the weights a bit more too. I've come down the guts of a stone."
"I feel quick, I definitely feel quicker than last year, but 80 minutes is a long time to carry around an extra stone, if you look at it that way. I've worked on that side of things a lot more, I've worked on being able to make it through 80 minutes. I used to struggle, after 65-70 it used to start getting to me. Now I'm still struggling at times in games but I'm finishing strong, which is important."
It was an admirable performance by Edinburgh to stay within reach, but the experience and star quality of the Leinster side got them through for a comfortable start to the fascinating Heineken Cup.
The much talked about Danny Cipriani Josh Lewsey training ground bust up finally has some closure as this weekend the two made it clear that they’ve buried the hatchet by showing a piece of on field theatre that probably took longer to rehearse than it took Cipriani to say "Shut up or be shut up".
It was only about a week ago that Wasps were in the middle of an intensive tackle session when according to Lewsey, Cipriani wasn’t quite giving it his all. An exchange of words took place, which resulted in young Cipriani being floored by a right hook from the 31 year old Lewsey.
Against Castres on Sunday, Wasps, who’ve only recorded two victories all season, finally came right as they returned to form by beating the French side 25-11. It was Lewsey & Cipriani who made all the front pages once again though.
Cipriani, still getting back into the swing of things after his recent comeback, was on fine form as he kicked ten points and created this try for Lewsey, the man who decked him only a few days earlier.
Cipriani’s neat kick ahead was followed by a commited tackle, which spilt the ball loose for Lewsey to gather and score. The mock shadow boxing and man-hug that followed made it clear for all to see that the recent bust up was simply a training ground flare-up, and nothing more.
'This isn't always a comfortable place to work in. Everyone's on each other's backs and there is a brutal honesty, but this is why we win silverware,' Lewsey was quoted as saying recently.
With talk of Cipriani being in the tabloids too often for some peoples liking, Wasps head coach Shaun Edwards denied that the young man is too big for his boots.
'As long as Danny leaves his ego at the door, like everyone else, he will be treated the same,' Edwards said.
'No-one at this club is questioning his commitment. He is one of the hardest working players at the club.'
Incidentally, former Wallaby Mat Rogers has spoken about that famous Lewsey tackle on him in 2003. We've updated the article, so have a look here if you'd like to read more about the rib breaking hit.
To learn more about Danny Cipriani the man, have a look at the interesting ten minute long interview with him we posted last week.
Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees was given his marching orders against Harlequins on the weekend for a tackle that, according to the officials, was without the ball and possibly dangerous.
It was to be the last Heineken Cup clash at the old Stradey Park, and the Scarlets were looking to give the home faithful the send off they deserved. After ten minutes, it looked like they were on route to achieving that, but Harlequins fought back and despite Llanelli (now Scarlets) leading 19-3 at half time, the game ended 29-22 to Harlequins.
Rees' yellow card came at a vital time with the loss of the Welsh hooker having an impact on the match. Coach Nigel Davies refused to blame the sending off for the loss, but did have a few words to say about it.
"It was a tough call but it was made and we had to deal with it," said Davies.
"It had an influence on the end result but I was more annoyed that tactically we went away from what we had spoken about at half-time."
The hit on Tani Fuga came as the Samoan neatly flicked the ball on with Rees approaching. Rees was seemingly committed, and the tackle looked fair, but the referee deemed that because Fuga didn't have the ball, it was a yellow card.
The way Rees speared Fuga when following through would have had an influence on the decision no doubt, but some would be inclined to say the sending off may have been a bit harsh.
Everyone views these type of tackles differently though, so we thought it would be interesting to stick this up and see what the opinions are.
The Sale Sharks put in perhaps the most impressive performance of the Heineken Cup weekend as they produced some fantastic rugby to beat Clermont Auvergne 32-15 on Saturday.
It was a tight game that still could have gone either way with ten minutes left, but a few excellently taken tries proved to be the difference in this entertaining match.
All Black Luke McAllister once again showed what a fantastically all round player he is, with another performance of true quality.
Welshman Dwayne Peel's break in the 20th minute proved to be a turning point in the game as Sale took a 13 point lead from the resultant David Doherty try. Peel picked up a shoulder injury though and looks to be out for some time unfortunately.
Clermont came back, but two Sale tries in the last ten minutes put the game out of reach for the home side.
"It's a great win and one we didn't expect. Clermont is a difficult place to come to and it's a fantastic achievement to pick up a bonus-point win away from home." said coach Kingsley Jones.
It was an impressive victory for Sale, but they can't celebrate for too long as they now need to focus on preparations for their mouth watering meeting with Munster next weekend.
The Northampton Saints got their European Challenge Cup campaign off to a fantastic start on Thursday night in the south of France as they put 50 points on an understrength Toulon side that were simply never in the match.
The seven try victory announced their return to European action in a big way as they picked up a bonus point win, and a huge confidence boost going into their next round match against Montpellier.
Toulon fielded only one of their nine international players, and it showed as halfbacks Ben Foden and Steve Mylar dominated proceedings, with Foden himself, new at the Saints, having an excellent match.
The three tries shown here were in our view, the best of the match. The first, scored by Joe Ansbro, was sparked by a typical Foden run that tore the defence to pieces before he offloaded to Ansbro in support.
Saints fullback Bruce Reihana worked a piece of magic for the Chris Ashton try, as he himself carved up the Toulon defence then put in the neatest of kicks for Ashton to gather over the line.
The individual try of the match, despite Toulons tired looking players, came from Foden who was in sizzling form as he ran, chipped, and regathered to finish a try that he started 60 meters back.
It was a great away performance by Saints with a few stand out moments of brilliance, but it's early days yet. It's a long European season and this match perhaps shows us that we may see selection experiments and rested players for certain matches being a thing of the norm - resulting in one sided victories such as this. Final score 56-3 to Northampton.
The Heineken Cup kicks off today as we'll get to see the top clubs around Europe do battle for the next few months. Champions Munster will be determined to defend the title they so famously claimed against Toulouse earlier in the year, but the challengers will be strong.
With talent spread far and wide across Europe at the moment, there are a number of teams that have a genuine chance of making it all the way. Don't be surprised to see any upset or two either, as match breakers in smaller sides could make all the difference.
We're in for a cracking few months of rugby, as the Heineken Cup is now considered one of the top, if not the top, club or provincial tournament in the world. That's up for debate of course, but the fact is that to play Heineken Cup rugby is a real test, and a challenge that someone like Dan Carter himself is relishing.
This is a short advert from Sky Sports for the exciting tournament that should keep us all thoroughly entertained from now until May next year. At this stage, before the first game has kicked off, anyone care to hazard a prediction as to who will be the two teams in the final? We'll look back at the end of the tournament and see who got it right.
Danny Cipriani is all over the headlines these days. Whether it's his romance with Kelly Brook, his recent training ground bust up with Josh Lewsey, or more importantly, his miraculous comeback from injury, Cipriani's name is plastered all over the place. Yes, Danny is back, and his timing couldn't have been better.
Barely 24 hours after Jonny Wilkinson picked up another unfortunate injury, Cipriani was running out for Wasps against Bath, his first game back since that fateful day back in May.
In this insightful ten minute long interview with the BBC's Gabby Logan, we get to hear first hand what makes Danny tick. He talks about what it felt like to look down and see his ankle facing the wrong direction, his subsequent recovery process, his relationship with Kelly Brook, and amongst other things, chocolate milk.
This interesting interview will hopefully give you a chance to better understand the young man who has talent in abundance, and by the look of it, the off field work ethic to match. Let's hope he can stay fit and focussed on the field, and keep a level head off it. If he doesn't, Josh Lewsey will no doubt be around to keep him in check.
Check out our Related Posts beneath the video if you'd like to see more of Cipriani in action. As always, thanks to the contributor who sent the link.
Henry Tuilagi introduced Toulon’s new recruit Joe Van Niekerk to the Top 14 recently in a way that we’ve become accustomed to seeing from the huge Samoan number eight.
Van Niekerk has only just started playing for Toulon since arriving from the Lions in South Africa, but got to feel the warm, friendly welcome of human wrecking ball Tuilagi in full flight.
Unfortunately the Perpignan backrower went on to break his arm about ten minutes after this big run, and will miss the first four rounds of the Heineken Cup. The recovery from surgery on the fractured right arm will put him out of action for the next two months.
The unfortunate injury also means that the influential Tuilagi will miss the upcoming Pacific Islanders European tour in November.
Perpignan meet Treviso on Friday in their opening Heineken Cup match.
Thanks to a user submission, we've come across this amusing try from the last Commonwealth Games' Sevens Tournament, held in Melbourne in 2006.
With all the recent talk of bringing Rugby Sevens back into the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games would be the ideal tournament to look back on and acknowledge that Sevens certainly does have a place on the world stage, in an event like this, or more significantly, at the Olympics.
New Zealand, the all conquering Sevens masters, beat England in the final in 2006, taking gold after England had knocked out Fiji in the Semis.
That Semi Final was extremely competitive, but it was England who had a comfortable lead with time almost up. This short clip is of the late try from Satala of Fiji, as he took a quick tap and dived over the line in some kind of bizarre attempt to get over the defenders. The try was given, and the dive was successful, although in real time it did look as though he had dropped the ball while trying to get it down.
The replay gives us a better view of it, and whatever the case, it was a rather peculiar try, something you don't see very often.
In the end England beat potential title contenders Fiji by 21-14.
Connacht sprung the surprise upset of the Magners League season so far as they heroically beat defending champions Leinster at the Galway Sportsgrounds on Sunday night. The loss for the champions may well dent their hopes of retaining the title, as they went down 19-18 to the courageous Connacht.
Fly half Ian Keatley, formerly of Leinster, kicked four penalties as well as the conversion of the lone Mike McCarthy try. The confidence gained was immense, particularly considering the recent mauling they received at the hands of the Cardiff Blues.
Five minutes into the second half the homeside came up with an inspired bit of play that began deep in their own half. Mike McCarthy was in support of the Sean Cronin offload, as he dived underneath the posts to complete a fantastic try.
As Connacht grabbed McCarthy in celebration, a scuffle broke out as Leo Cullen seemed to be the instigator, with an elbow on Keatley. Whether it was accidental or not, it led to try scorer McCarthy leading with his head into Wallaby Rocky Elsom. Elsom retaliated with a punch, and both players received yellow cards.
It was McCarthy’s second yellow, so he got a red, meaning his night was over seconds after his great try.
Jonathan Sexton pushed a late dropgoal attempt wide, as Connacht held on despite the numerical advantage, achieving their first win over Irish opposition since December 2005.
Castres hosted south-west neighbours Toulouse on Friday night in what turned out to be atrocious conditions which actually saw the players leaving the field at one stage, as a hail storm and lightning threatened to put an end to the evening.
Toulouse came out easy winners 28-10 thanks to two tries by centre Maleli Kunavore, and one from Cedric Heymans. Flyhalf David Skrela kicked two conversions, two penalties, and a drop goal.
The hail stones that came pelting down on the players were bad enough that the referee decided to take them from the field for a short while. The threat of lighting though, was perhaps more of the concern than the hail.
With the Heineken Cup on the way shortly, this was an excellent confidence boost for the finalists of last season, as they host Bath in their opening Pool 5 fixture next weekend.
This short vid is pretty nicely done, and gives you an idea of what it was like out there during the match.
The Ospreys narrowly avoided what would have been a surprise home defeat to Harlequins in the EDF Energy Cup match at Liberty Stadium on Sunday. A late try from Tommy Bowe, followed by a crucial conversion from James Hook, was the difference between the two sides in the end.
Ospreys coach Sean Holley admitted there were a few bruised egos as the star studded side snatched victory by 24-23 as Hook’s injury-time conversion flew through the uprights.
Harlequins, who were missing several key Guinness Premiership starters, were dejected at the final whistle after having done so well to comeback from being 14-3 down to outscore Ospreys Ospreys 20-10 in the second half. And with a few minutes in the match left, it looked like the celebrations would be theirs.
"It was a classic get out of jail situation”, said Holley.
“It was a bit too close for comfort. Quins deserve a lot of credit - they were very tenacious - and there are clearly elements of the game for us to work on.
"Perhaps everyone in the world, except the 22 guys in the Quins dressing room, expected a 50-pointer. We are making no excuses. We were really tested, but apart from an injury to Sonny Parker, there were no other problems, just a few bruised egos."
Bowe’s late try meant that they were one behind, with the conversion to come from Hook, who had been struggling with his kicking all match.
As the weekend winds down, it's time to catch up on some of the top tries scored in the Top 14 last weekend. We've featured this short package a few times already, and in all honesty, it's a mixed bag, but usually throws out a few great bits of action which make it well worth the watch.
The best of Round 6 was no different, as the top sides around the country once again produced some fine examples of running rugby at it's best. The tries on display feature a nice mix of local and foreign talent, making it all the more interesting for neutral rugby fans.
Young French flyer Alexis Palisson of Brive scored a fantastic try which came in at number seven in the top ten, while Byron Kelleher once again got on the scoresheet for Toulouse. We also get to see that great Mark Gasnier try for Stade Francais once again.
Enjoy the clip, and feel free to let us know your thoughts on the order, and whether you think the top three picks in particular were accurate.
Northampton flanker Neil Best was recently handed an eighteen week ban after he was found guilty of eye-gouging James Haskell when the Northampton Saints played Wasps on the 20th of September.
Northampton have lodged an official appeal against the ban, to which a RFU panel will hear the appeal case on this coming Monday, ruling Best out until the final appeal verdict.
Upon being cited as making contact with Haskell’s eye area with his hand, Best will not be allowed to play again until the 28th of January.
That rules him out of Ireland’s three November internationals and seventeen Saints games throughout the Guinness Premiership, EDF Energy Cup, and the European Challenge Cup.
Haskell, who was taken to hospital following the match, was found to have swelling and abrasions around his eyes while reportedly also complained that his vision had been affected.
RFU disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett, Best said he had acted "recklessly but not deliberately".
Best apologised on to Haskell on the field and it was accepted that he did not intend to cause serious injury, but nevertheless the offence was judged to be ‘towards the top end of the scale of seriousness’.
We’ve found a short clip from The Rugby Club that features the incident. Decide for yourself if you think the severity of the ruling is just, or completely spot on.
As we all know, Rugby's appeal has meant that it's a far reaching and much played sport all over the globe. While some may think that it's only the 'traditional' nations that have a strong rugby culture, the reality is that many countries around the world not only play rugby, but in fact love and live for the sport.
There's not a day that goes by that I don't receive an email from a fan in a non-powerhouse rugby country. From Chile to Kazakhstan, through the power of the internet, we're reaching new fans every day, spreading the rugby love and hoping that by doing our bit, we're encouraging new players to take up the game and get involved, no matter if you're in England or Albania.
So while certain other sports will always dominate global numbers because of a number of factors, rugby fans and players will always have pride in knowing that the sport we love is generally played with honesty, integrity, and sportsmanship. Three key aspects that are perhaps missing elsewhere.
This funny rugby advert from the Czech Republic has a little dig at another sport that some of us may also be fans of, but surely acknowledge that all is not right in the way it's played at times.
At the end the direct translation says, quite frankly, 'Football is for p*ssies. Try rugby.'
Munster took the derby honours this past weekend as they defeated rivals Leinster 18-0 at the RDS. The win meant that reigning Magners League champions Leinster's eight match home winning streak came to end, five years to the month of their last home loss.
Munster were keen for revenge after having lost twice to Leinster last season, and not having beaten them since European success at Lansdowne Road two years ago
The all Irish clash was ironically sealed in the end with tries by a South African and a Kiwi, with Ronan O’Gara taking the Man of the Match honours for his all round play.
Leinster’s Argentinean star Felipe Contepomi was disappointing though, as he missed three penalties early on in the game.
At 6-0 with 12 minutes left, the result could have gone either way but it was surprise hero Justin Melck who scored a splendid try that was enough to extend the lead and swing the game in Munster’s favour.
A last minute Doug Howlett speciality, from a deft kick by O’Gara, was the nail in the coffin as Munster secured a most memorable of wins.