Two second half Mils Muliana tried helped New Zealand pile on the points as they claimed a 32-6 victory over an error-stream England at Twickenham on Saturday. The win meant that they’ve now achieved a Grand Slam over all the four home nations, a feat not achieved since 2005, and before that, 1978.
The achieved the clean sweep without conceding a try, with this win over the English being their biggest winning margin since the 41-20 success of two years ago.
England started off far more competitive than they had been in their previous defeats to Australia and South Africa, but a errors were their main downfall, as they gave away penalties a plenty, and had four players sent to the sinbin.
Dan Carter kicked four out of his six attempts on goal in the first half as New Zealand went into halftime with a 12-3 lead.
England fullback Delon Armitage coolly slotted a pentalty to reduce the deficit to six, but Muliaina went over in the corner with 20 minutes to go – a sign of what was to come.
Ten minutes later Carter miraculously chipped the ball in the All Black fullback’s hands for his second try in the same corner. Whether it was a shank or a piece of brilliance, the intention was there and the result was the same.
Centre Ma’a Nonu scored his third try in three weeks which Carter converted, ending on 17 points despite having a less than impressive day with the boot. His five missed kicks proved inconsequential as New Zealand walked away with a convincing win, once again highlighting why they’re the top side in world rugby at the moment.
A week after seeing Wales stand up to and stare down the Haka, debate continues to flow about what is in fact the correct way to face the famous prematch ritual. Some have taken it one step further, questioning why it is that New Zealand are actually given the right to perform the Haka at all.
For years individuals have moaned that it gives the All Blacks a huge advantage over the opposition, and that it should be stopped as it is quite simply unfair.
The reality of the situation is that it is, first and foremost, a tradition. It's also a hugely valuable piece of showmanship that goes along way towards adding to not only the mystique of the All Blacks, but towards the charisma of rugby itself.
Opinions are mixed surrounding the issue, as always, and earlier in the year we even heard Australian commentator Phil Kearns mumble on a live broadcast ‘Get rid of it.’
An English journalist wrote in a well known newspaper last week that the Haka has become ‘tirelessly irksome’.
"Both rugby codes have been subjected this month to a tedious basinful of this now charmless eye-rolling, tongue-squirming dance. Now the haka is an over-rehearsed, over-choreographed production number with a nasty malignant edge to it," he added.
All Black legend Buck Shelford has rubbished those comments, saying that the use of the war dance is appropriate as a game of rugby is like a war. It is a sign of respect to the opposition after all.
"In our culture the haka is about pride and mana and it's about a challenge to the opposition."
Sure, there are always critics of the Haka, and of how it is performed by certain individuals, but there is no doubt that it is not only a bone tingling challenge to the opposition, but a fantastic marketing tool for the sport of rugby. It’s something special that has the power to intrigue and engage even those who’ve never seen the sport before.
The recent Munster and All Black clash drew in record viewers, and last week’s Welsh standoff will go down in rugby folklore as a historic moment for our sport.
As explained by former All Black fullback Glen Osborne, it is simply about the tradition and the challenge. As a team, how you face it is up to you. Kick a ball around like David Campese, get up close like Richard Cokerill, or stare them down like the Welsh.
The fact of the matter is, the Haka is here to stay, so lets enjoy the confrontation from both sides, and rather than criticise it – lets try understand and embrace it.
The Wallabies meet Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, a week after their 18-13 win against the French at Stade de France. They are so far unbeaten on their European tour, but will look to lift their game as they were in some respects pretty lucky to come away with a win in Paris, thanks to some poor kicking from the hosts.
Hooker Stephen Moore and wing Peter Hynes scored tries for the Wallabies while flyhalf Matt Giteau added a conversion and two penalties.
France were awarded a penalty try just before halftime after tearing down an Australian scrum. Fullback Maxime Medard also kicked a 50-metre drop goal which brushed the crossbar.
France flyhalf David Skrela slotted a conversion and a penalty but also missed five penalties and a drop goal.
"It was not a miracle, it was just a rugby game and sometimes it's just like that," said Australia coach Robbie Deans, who answered all questions in French during the press conference.
"I think our discipline was good but there were a lot of penalties. Maybe, next time we'll adjust to the referee," he added.
French coach Marc Lievremont had mixed feelings after the game.
"Our scrummaging was the best surprise of the game but there weren't enough scrums. The most frustrating thing is that we didn't manage to put our game together."
David Skrela should have won the match for the French, but it was not to be, with his late yellow card capping off a rather disappointing individual display all in all.
A win is a win as far as Australia are concerned though, and it doesn’t get any easier as Wales will have their tails up after a solid performance against the All Blacks.
Welsh coach Warren Gatland believes Wales are getting closer to being a top-four side in world rugby, and a 15 point margin victory over Australia could move them up to fifth in the rankings.
"The most important thing for everyone is to get a result if we can," Gatland said. "That is an incredibly tough prospect, but on the other side of the coin there is no doubting that we have an opportunity here against the Wallabies.
"The statistics say they are a better team than us and they will rightly carry the favourites tag, but we have the opportunity on Saturday to achieve something special out of this Autumn campaign and it is a chance we do not want to miss."
England play New Zealand tomorrow as they look to regain the faith of the public after their awful performance against the Springboks on Saturday. The World Champions handed the hosts their worst defeat at Twickenham ever, crushing them 42-6 in a one side rematch of the World Cup Final.
The Springboks, who had already beaten Wales and Scotland, made pre-match suggestions that they were too tired look laughable with a performance of classy opportunism in attack and dogged determination in defence.
Tries by Danie Rossouw, Ruan Pienaar, Adi Jacobs, Jaque Fourie and Bryan Habana and assured goalkicking by Pienaar after the break completed a hugely satisfying European tour with South Africa's sixth win in a row against England.
On a day that marked the fifth anniversary of England's 2003 World Cup triumph, the home side were given a stark reminder of how far they have fallen since that glorious night in Sydney and the heady days of seven successive wins over the Springboks.
"It was a brutal lesson," coach Martin Johnson told Sky Sports News. "We created a lot of opportunities but the execution was poor."
Springbok captain John Smit said: "We signed off in style. I asked a lot from the guys this week but they gave me more.
"I could feel it before the game, you know every guy is really on task and you get these wonderful days when everything comes together."
England's defeat, with the All Blacks to come next week, severely dents their chances of hanging on to their top-four place in the world rankings and could leave them out of the top seeds for the 2011 World Cup draw on Dec. 1.
"It's a real character week for all of us now," said Johnson. "We can either pack it all up or come back and try to win the game. We have to bounce back and play our hearts out."
On Saturday we watched as a great test match took place in Cardiff between hosts Wales and the all conquering All Blacks. It was a tale of two halves as Wales competed manfully in the first, but were no match in the second as New Zealand came out tops 29-9 in the end.
Possibly the most talked about event of the match though didn’t take place during game time, but in fact pre-kickoff as Wales stood up to the Haka, presenting a challenge of their own.
All week there had been talk of a response from the Welsh, and while the rumours spread, when it came down to it, the response they gave was simple, yet effective in making their statement of intent known.
What it was, was a fantastic moment in sport as the two minute stand off following the Kapa o Pango had neither side wanting to blink as they stared each other down. Referee Jonathan Kaplan tried in vain to coax the teams into action, but neither were interested in being the first to take a backward step.
Following the match, All Black centre Ma’a Nonu has warned that in the upcoming game this weekend, the English will be best advised to not try the same stunt.
Nonu was rather put out by the standoff at the Millennium Stadium, saying that it will have hurt viewers back home in New Zealand. He also had his theories as to who was behind the bold move.
"What the Welsh did wound us up. They were probably told by Warren Gatland to stand there and wait until we leave," he said.
"But it was really hard. The Haka is a war dance. If you're going to stand there like that then in the past people would have charged, but it's a rugby match and you can't do that.
"People back home will have been hurt by what they decided to do. Standing in the way like they did is asking for a fight.
"My blood pressure was pretty high but then I regained my composure. I was a bit upset about it.
"If I was facing the haka I'd respect it. The haka is the haka, after that it's game time. If England want to do that they can - but they'll probably get the same response."
New Zealand coach Graham Henry said he hoped Wales' response would not set a precedent.
"The Welsh thought that was the best way to respond, I just wanted to know when the game was going to start.
"It took someone with common sense, the All Blacks captain, to get things going," Henry added.
"We don't need that every week. I hope a copycat situation doesn't occur. It's time to move on and be more sensible."
What is your take on it? We think most neutrals would have loved this moment, seeing it as an acceptance of the challenge, rather than being disrespectful. Perhaps the kiwis out there disagree though? We'd love to hear your feedback.
The Pacific Islanders recorded a historic first ever Test Match win on Saturday as they defeated Italy 25-17 at the Stadio Giglio to finish their tour on a high.
It was the first time in nine occasions that the Islanders had won against international opposition, sparking jubilant scenes at the final whistle.
After heavy defeats to both England and France in the past two weekends, the team made up of Fijians, Samoans, and Tongans has finally got the reward for all the hard work they’ve put in, not to mention the natural talent that they have in abundance.
Italian coach Nick Mallet has now lost three out of three autumn tests after back to back losses to Australia and Argentina. His side were poor in the first half, but dominated in the second, although they were not able to break through the visitors’ defence.
"We had the ball for 35 minutes after the restart and I'm just sorry that we didn't manage to score until it was too late," Mallet said afterwards, complimenting the Islanders’ effort.
New Zealand born Italian winger Kaine Robertson blamed his team’s mental approach for the defeat.
"We were in their 22 throughout the whole of the second half but we only managed to score one try," he said.
"We need to be more humble. We should beat this lot if we play to our true level, it's mental."
It was the Islanders who’s defence and temperament held firm though, as coach Quddus Fielea was full of praise for his side.
"I thank the guys for the fantastic match they've played today," he told reporters.
"The last 40 minutes were very hard and Italy made us sweat."
Toulouse flyhalf Frederic Michalak had another eventful evening on Friday when his side scraped to a narrow 18-12 win over Bourgoin in the Top 14.
In appaling conditions, the game was full of kicking and there was only a point seperating the two sides at halftime. The visitors came away with the win though in a closely fought match.
With twenty minutes to go Michalak put in a crazy tackle on Bourgoin scrum half Mickael Forest.
He was yellow carded by the referee, with it being deemed as a dangerous spear tackle as we saw Forest being tossed onto the back of his head.
Michalak got down nice and low to effect the tackle, but picking him up into a spear position, then dropping him, deserves nothing less than a yellow. Poor technique unfortunately, but just another eventful weekend for Freddie.
After another hectic weekend of rugby action, we're starting off today with some footage from the Top 14 in France, and more specifically, the top tries from round 10 of this facinating league.
As always, it's a mixed bag with tries from all across the country, and by players from all over the world. Many of those players have been given a lifeline in France, with a chance to make a name for themselves when they perhaps haven't quite made it in their own country.
Others are there because they've been brought over on big money deals. Mark Gasnier for example, is one who was a sensational signing for Stade Francais, and we see him scoring a nice try here against Montpellier.
The top try though, which was from the same match, comes from young French international Julien Tomas who had a great dart down the right wing, before dummying to beat two defenders.
There's plenty of others to enjoy too, so once again, here are the best tries from round 10 of the Top 14.
Argentina edged Italy 22-14 this past Saturday for its first win since June, and earned a return to the top four in the world rugby rankings.
The end of the Pumas' four-match losing streak at Turin, combined with England's 28-14 loss to Australia in London, gives them a chance to secure their top-four position next weekend by beating Ireland at Dublin in their tour finale.
The top four at the end of the month will lead the seedings for the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.
Argentina needed a moment of brilliance from flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez to shrug off Italy and repay a 13-12 defeat to the Azzurri at Cordoba in June.
"Argentina didn't show a lot of skill, but we gave too much space to Hernandez and that try decided the match," Italy captain Sergio Parisse said.
"We are very disappointed," Parisse added.
"We were too indisciplined, and some errors at the end of the first half allowed our opponents to take the lead. We played too much in our half and it's difficult to win from there."
Italy, which also lost to Australia last weekend, rounds off its autumn series against the Pacific Islanders this weekend.
In other matches taking place, New Zealand take on Wales, Australia travel to France, and South Africa go up against England. Get yourself a free bet over at Betfair and stand a chance to win big. Checkout all the info here now.
After a 30 year absence, the All Blacks returned to Limerick to take on Munster once again, the side that so famously beat them 12-0 in 1978. This time around though, it was the men from New Zealand who came out on top, avenging defeat with a hard-fought 18-16 win after Joe Rokocoko’s late try helped them avoid a historic repeat.
The legend of the tale was done justice on Tuesday night as the 2008 version produced as much splendour and atmosphere as that famous day three decades ago.
A packed Thomond Park cheered for absolutely everything, starting when the match ball was delivered by helicopter to the 1978 captain Donal Canniffe, and rose as one to acknowledge the feat achieved by the heroic team of yesteryear.
The game itself had all the drama and intensity all were expecting to see. Munster were ahead at half time, and looked like they could make history yet again, but the late try sealed the famous victory for the unbeaten tourists.
As the two sides lined up before kickoff, Munster prepared to face the Haka, but we saw something quite unique, and a pretty special moment in the history of the game.
The Kiwis of the Munster side, Rua Tipoki, Lifeimi Mafi, Doug Howlett and reserve back Jeremy Manning, all stepped forward and laid down the Haka as a challenge to the All Blacks, before they responded themselves.
They were backed by their Munster teamates, and the noise in the crowd was deafening. Munster captain Mick O’Driscoll said it was an honour for his team to be part of this historic pre-match ritual.
"Rua in particular, and I don't like singling any of them out, but speaking to Rua he is probably one of the proudest men you will ever meet," O'Driscoll said. "And I think it is something he wanted to do so we all rolled in behind him."
"As a Kiwi boy you grow up dreaming as soon as you pick up a rugby ball that you can play for the All Blacks one day and as a Maori, you know, do the haka for the All Blacks," said Tipoki.
"I got asked if we could represent our team and we were wary because Munster has already such a rich culture and tradition that we were not just going to come here and place our stamp on here and have people who have supported Munster for years and lived Munster and played for Munster and thought what are these guys doing.
"It was something that everyone we spoke to wanted us to do and we did it on behalf of our team and they supported us. It was a special moment in my career and I will always remember it."
All Blacks No 8 Liam Messam was himself full of praise for Tipoki and the gesture, saying it was ‘awesome’, clapping and nodding his approval afterwards.
"I just wanted to pay my respects to Rua because he was the senior player and used to be my captain in the Maoris and I wanted to show my respect to him in his home game."
Wallaby captain Stirling Mortlock put this fantastic hit in on Englands Riki Flutey when they played this past weekend to a 28-14 win at Twickenham for the visitors.
Getting low and driving back hard, Mortlock put the converted Kiwi on his backside in no uncertain terms.
He will be looking to repeat such stern defense when his side meet France at the Stade de France this Saturday.
"Playing the French is extremely tough," said Mortlock.
"They are very proud of their rugby history, and they have so much flair with backs that can score tries.
"But hopefully we can build on what we have done on this tour. Our mindset is pretty positive.
"However there is a lot more improvement to come and we've still got a way to go."
As for the man on the receiving end here, Flutey, he is now a fully fledged English player after qualifying after being in the country for three years, and getting thrown a lifeline by Martin Johnson.
He will be looking to create some magic in the England backline this weekend as they take on South Africa. The two sides meeting at Twickenham is historically eventful, so we should be in for another bone crunching encounter.
It's been a while since we've brought you the Best Tries of the Top 14. It's back though, and this time we have a selection of the best action up to round 9.
Some of the tries you may have seen before here on RD, others will be new to you though and have all the flair and execution we're used to seeing from this exciting French league.
If you've been following closely, you'll recognise the try that's chosen as number one on this list, that being Montpelliers try against Montabaun from not too long ago.
Fulgence Ouedraogo is the man who collects the scoring flick pass from life long buddy Francois Trinh-Duc for a superb try.
At this point you'll more than likely have your favourites for the Top 14 try of the season so far. We'll keep these clips coming when possible and I'm sure by the end of the season the number one try will be a stand out winner.
Since the weekend, we've received more than a few requests for a tackle that Sebastien Chabal put in against the Pacific Islanders on Saturday.
The Caveman picked up and drove back big Fijian number eight Sisa Koyamaibole as he charged ahead. Chabal is known for putting in the occasional storming run or crunching hit, and as far as textbook tackles go, this was one of the best we've seen from the enigmatic Frenchman.
Always popular with the fans, and one of the most recognisible faces of the Rugby World Cup last year, Chabal's form and fitness on the field has never appeared to be quite as consistent as the hype surrounding him off it.
He has however, been named in the French side to take on Australia this weekend and is determined as ever to prove that he is worthy of a regular place in the team.
He was annoyed with media earlier today after it was insinuated that he was selected because of pressure from the fans, not for his ability to last a full match.
"You always ask the same questions. It's not funny," said the bearded one.
"You forget I'm also a club player and play some 30 games for the full 80 minutes each season, even if international rugby is played at a higher level. This is not the issue.
"To form a good back row you need ... a cart horse. At Sale I'm the cart horse, I bring power and aggression and they love it."
Chabal will be one to watch yet again this weekend as France host Australia in another highly anticipated end of year Test match.
Note: The video and account it was on was removed for some reason. It is back up now though.
All eyes will be on Thomond Park tonight as Munster host the All Blacks, 30 years after their famous 12-0 victory over the tourists from New Zealand. The match itself, while not featuring both first teams, will be an occasion not to be missed.
The VIP list includes Bono, Michael Flatley, Padraig Harrington, Jonah Lomu, and of course, the heroes from the side that won in 1978, who themselves will be presented to the capacity crowd pre kick-off.
The frontline internationals from both sides won’t be on show unfortunately, as this match is scheduled a mere 3 days after the big test match between the two countries.
We all know what a second All Black team is as good as most countries’ first teams though, and Munster themselves, despite missing key man Ronan O’Gara, will field a highly competitive side.
It will be an interesting night for Kiwis Doug Howlett, Rua Tipoki, and Lifemi Mafi, who will all standup to the Haka for probably the first and last time.
Howlett, is realistic about the challenge and mindful of the history of game.
"We are certainly depleted with the internationals not being in the team. But we will work with what we have got," he said. "It's one of those one-off occasions that will never come around again. It's always been in the back of my head since I came to Ireland – the possibility of playing the All Blacks.
"You look at the history of the All Blacks and there is that blemish that cropping up," the All Black’s leading try-scorer added.
The Munster win on October 31 1978 against a near full-strength New Zealand team in one of the most sensational defeats in All Black history.
All Blacks wing Bryan Williams recalls that day: "Looking back we were very complacent and we certainly paid the price. It became apparent pretty early on that Munster were really fired up. And they weren't going to take any prisoners. The longer the game went on, the worse we became. They realised they were in with a shot and we were struggling to pull ourselves together." We’ve got done something a little different on this one, and featured two clips here instead of one. The first is of the famous Christy Cantillon try from the match 30 years ago. The second, is an dramatic preview for tonight, building up to the momentous occasion that is anticipated to be another special night in the history of rugby.
The Wallabies defeated England 28-14 at Twickenham on Saturday to take the Cook Cup and achieve their first win at the England fortress in four years.
Matt Giteau, who made his international debut at the same ground in 2002, was in sublime form as he kicked 20 points and pulled off a try-saving tackle. Adam Ashley-Cooper scored a try with Stirling Mortlock converting it as Australia marched to victory.
After the successful win over the Pacific Islanders last weekend, England’s new coach Martin Johnson has tasted defeat for the first time.
"We gave away too many penalties. It's as simple as that. They did not have to do a lot to score and they did not break us," said Johnson.
"The players are disappointed because that was a game they had a good chance to win.
"If you do not have the ball though you cannot impose your physicality on your opponents."
The departure of Danny Cipriani seven minutes before full time, with what looked like a recurrence of his ankle injury, only added to England’s woes.
This clip includes footage of the nice hit that Wallaby Wycliff Palu put in on home shortly before that.
For Australia, a fantastic win ahead of their meeting with France in Paris. The form of Matt Giteau will be of huge comfort to them, but the man himself is staying grounded.
"There's still a lot of things we can work on. The fact that we beat England by 14 points at Twickenham and we've still got improvements to make is a real positive for the boys," he said.
"Obviously England was a big win for us as far as the tour is concerned, but it means nothing if we go out and put in a bad performance against France."
Try scoring machine Napolioni Nalaga saw red yesterday as he was sent off for an awful looking tackle on flyhalf Jean-Baptiste Elissalde. The loss of the player did nothing to help the Pacific Islanders as they went down 42-17 to the French at the Bonal Stadium.
The unsavoury incident, which resulted in Elissalde being stretchered off unconscious, marred the match, but after the long delay for the treatment of Elissalde, the French then made their dominance show.
Referee Nigel Owens was in no doubt following the hit by Nalaga, sending the massive wing off and making his reasons very clear.
Often it’s said that a ref’s decision regarding a tackle shouldn’t be determined by the outcome of it, but by the tackle itself. In this case though, Owen’s only needed to take one look at the pint sized Elissalde to make up his mind.
"Jean-Baptiste was under medical supervision all night. It looks like everything is okay but we cannot take any chances. He has been seriously shaken up," coach Marc Lievremont said.
Young Julien Tomas, who scored a fantastic try for Montpellier this weekend, has been called up as replacement and will join the squad that will play Australia next weekend.
New Zealand overcame an error-prone first half to defeat Ireland 22-3 yesterday and maintain their 22-match unbeaten run against the hosts.
The All Blacks took a decisive 10-3 lead in the final move of the first half at Croke Park. A controversial penalty try was awarded against Tommy Bowe for slapping the ball into touch just as Richie McCaw appeared ready to score.
Referee Mark Lawrence handed him a yellow card to go with it, in what was a decision that is sure to fire up debate around the world for a long time yet.
The numeric advantage didn’t last long for the All Blacks though, as Tony Woodcock was himself yellow carded, early in the second half, for a punch on Rory Best. The punch, to our knowledge, wasn't picked up on camera.
Earlier, an unusually shaky Dan Carter converted just one of three penalty kicks, while Ronan O’Gara nailed his only attempt — a stunning 45m shot in the 38th minute — to make it 3-3.
But tries by Ma’a Nonu and Brad Thorn in the 48th and 53rd minutes put the result beyond reach of the Irish, who lacked attacking bite and who have failed to beat New Zealand since 1905.
Irish captain Brian O’Driscoll said "New Zealand won the field battle and dominated. You can only defend for so long and I thought we got out of jail a bit at times in the first half."
French flyhalf Frederic Michalak had a nightmare return back to the Top 14 yesterday against Toulon, as he not only missed a handful of kicks, but took a massive knock to go with it.
Toulouse won the match 19-18 in the end, but it was no thanks to Michalak who, in his first game back after the Currie Cup win with the Sharks in South Africa, looked rusty and out of sorts.
He was booed by the fans and eventually replaced as a kicker by Gaffie Du Toit, who slotted the two kicks asked of him, bringing relief to the sell-out crowd.
Michalak, still only 26 believe it or not, showed little form or confidence as he missed kick after kick. The whistling from the crowd told the story.
"I think that's normal because I missed five or six kicks. I knew it would be a difficult match for me and I'm going to have to work more because I lacked my composure, with Byron Kelleher and with everybody," he said afterwards.
"More was expected of me but the main thing is that Toulouse won, not with my kicks but from the boot of Gaffie Du Toit," added Michalak.
So as if having a poor day with the boot isn’t enough, early in the second half we saw Toulon center Mafileo Kefu put this crunching hit in on Freddie. The pass from Kelleher wasn’t the kindest ever as Kefu, the younger brother of former Wallaby Totai, lined him up, then hit him hard.
After a fairly mediocre season with the Sharks, Michalak will now have a lot to prove at Toulouse, with the number 10 jersey already fiercely contested by Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and David Skrela.
Australia take on England at Twickenham this afternoon in what should be yet another fiercely contested battle between the two rugby powerhouses. Today we're going to take a look back to their famous 1995 RWC Quarter Final in South Africa.
The match was not a running spectacle, but was packed with tension as it went right down to the final kick. England roared into the game as the stronger side, their pack proving too powerful for their Australian counterparts in the opening 40 minutes.
Michael Lynagh and Rob Andrew both managed two penalties apiece in the half, but it was Tony Underwood's sprint for the try which proved the major defining point between both sides.
When England got a sniff from a turnover, the ball was spread wide fast, landing in the hands of Underwood Jnr, who sprinted down the right wing and touched down for a great try.
Damian Smith later chased high bomb, gathered midair, and touched down for a brilliant try for the Wallabies. From then on, the game was all about the forward confrontation and the boots of Lynagh and Andrew. The pair matched each other kick for kick but neither side could be separated as the full 80 minutes expired with the scores at 22-22.
Into extra time it went, and as England got within sniffing distance, Dewi Morris swept a superb pass to Rob Andrew who in turn unleashed a perfect drop-kick from 45 metres.
It was a famous 25-22 win for England, beating Australia outside of the Northern Hemisphere for the first time.
In November 2005 South Africa took on Argentina at the Estadio Velez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires in a match that was remembered more for this bizarre incident that for the quality of play on display. The Springboks won 34-23 in a physical and scrappy match that was watched by a typically passionate home crowd.
Fielding an entirely foreign based side for the first time ever, the Pumas produced three first half tries in the match that was to commemorate the 40th anniversary of tests between the two nations.
South Africa themselves managed three tries, but it was ultimately the boot of Percy Montgomery that sealed the win, with the fullback notching up 21 points in total on the day.
Shortly after the halftime interval, we saw an unpleasant incident that resulted in a yellow card for Bok center Jean De Villiers, and perhaps a new pair of shorts needed for Pumas wing Lucas Borges.
De Villiers forced Borges into touch he tried to wrestle the ball free so he could look to take a quick lineout. Borges hung onto the ball, and as De Villiers tried again to pry it from his grasp, he pushed Borges, who staggered backwards and went backwards over the advertising hoardings.
As it was a football stadium, instead of having grass on the other side of the boards as we’re accustomed to in rugby, there was a deep concrete moat between the boards and the spectators – obviously a means of stopping the football crowds from getting onto the pitch.
Borges went south, headfirst, and if it were not for the quick thinking of De Villiers, who instinctively grabbed hold of his foot, he may well have been seriously injured from the fall.
Players joined, and they managed to get Borges up to safety before a scuffle broke out, with the chief instigator being the fiery Mario Ledesma.
The result was a yellow card for De Villiers, and a penalty to the Pumas, but thankfully Borges survived what would have been a freak accident.
Time: 01:19 Note: This video had been taken down, but it's now back up. If it goes down again, it's because Mediazone/Rugbyzone don't want you to see it for whatever reason. We've done what we can, apologies for any further inconvenience.
Australia scored a late, face-saving try through debutant Quade Cooper as they came up with a 30-20 victory over Italy in Padova on Saturday.
With eight minutes to go, the twice world champions were tied 20-20 against the determined Italians, but young Cooper danced his way through the defence to score a dramatic try to put the visitors ahead.
Mat Giteau notched up 17 points while wing Lachlan Turner scored the Wallebies’ only other try. Captain Stirling Mortlock also got on the scoreboard with a penalty of his own.
Mirco Beramasco crossed the line for the Azzurri, while flyhalf Andrea Marcato and his replacement Luciano Orquera kicked the rest of Italy’s points.
Australia rested a few of their top players ahead of their upcoming clash with England, but the home side still did well to push them all the way till the last ten minutes.
"There a bit of a bitter taste because we came close," Italy flanker Mauro Bergamasco said. "We made mistakes. But we showed that we can go forward, that we can play good rugby.
"We scored a beautiful first-phase try. It's the sort of thing great teams often do against us and that we have proved we are capable of when we play at 120 percent."
New Zealand got the first leg of their Grand Slam tour under way with a comfortable 32-6 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday. With plenty of talk pre-match about the ‘second string’ All Black outfit that coach Graeme Henry selected, the Scots still weren’t quite good enough to pose a threat to the Tri Nations champions.
The Scots got off to a good start in the match, looking dangerous through Mike Blair and Chris Paterson, but they couldn’t maintain it and they will need to lift their game once again as they face the Springboks on Saturday.
The finishing of the visitors, as well as their superior pace and handling, outdid the at times shaky Scottish defence. The physicality of the match wasn’t in question though, as this was no easy task for the men in black. Despite that, their four tries were ultimately enough to see them home for a relatively straight forward win.
Tries by Anthony Tuitavake, Richard Kahui, Piri Weepu and Anthony Boric meant that they can now put a little tick next to the checkbox for game one of this arduous tour.
Coach Graeme Henry was quick to praise his experimental side.
"It was a good start to the tour of the UK," said Henry.
"There was some quick defence out there when we were under the cosh.
"The Scots played with adventure and probably deserved a couple of tries. I'm told there were nine line breaks by Scotland. That shows we're a bit rusty. But this was a first time together for this team".
Scottish coach Frank Hadden was more frustrated than disappointed with the result.
"After having had so much possession and territory it was hard to accept this but when it came it to finishing New Zealand showed real class," he told reporters.
"However, I thought that we gave their defence a tough examination".
Regarding New Zealand’s chances of completing a Grand Slam, "They rode their luck today but they clearly have an abundance of talent. There is no denying the differences in resources between them and us".
New Zealand play Ireland at Croke Park on Saturday, with Scotland hosting South Africa at Murrayfield.
PLEASE NOTE: Mediazone have removed this video unfortunately.
Declan Kidney’s first game in charge of Ireland began in convincing fashion on Saturday as they swept aside Canada with a eight try romp at Thomond Park. The 55-0 final score, in rain-drenched conditions, was a good confidence booster for the Irish ahead of their clash with the All Blacks.
It was a nice opportunity for Kidney to broaden the experience of some of his younger players, including exciting 21 year old debutant Keith Earls who crossed in the third minute.
The first half romp included two tries for Rob Kearney, who put in another excellent all-round performance, and further scores for Jamie Heaslip and Tommy Bowe.
Canada fared okay in the second half, but that was largely due to the weather and the slightly scrappy performance from the home side. Substitutes David Wallace and Alan Quinlan, and then Bowe again, made sure the half-century was completed in the dying minutes.
How will this performance prepare Ireland ahead of the meeting with New Zealand in Dublin?
"It's a bit early to tell but I wouldn't read too much into the scoreline," Coach Kidney said after the match.
"It was a good day with a lot of good things in it. We will enjoy the win. The first half we were okay but there are things we need to look at as we fell away in the third quarter and did not have a lot of intensity.
"When the subs came on they brought a bit of enthusiasm and finished it out.
"You just play what's in front of you. We'll see what we've done well but we know we have to add so much more onto it."
PLEASE NOTE: Mediazone have removed this video unfortunately.
England got their Autumn Tests campaign off to a good start on Saturday as they defeated the Pacific Islanders 39-13 at Twickenham. The match was expected to be a much tighter affair, but the experience and professionalism of the England outfit was too good the Islanders, who despite having a few big name stars, simply couldn’t gel as a unit.
A charge down try from Seru Rabeni gave them some hope early on, but the English speed and power was too much of a factor for the newly combined opposition.
If there’s a positive that can be taken from the match for the tourists, it’s that they will have had a chance to try out a few combinations, and will have learnt some valuable lessons ahead of their remaining matches against both France and Italy.
“France at home are very tough," captain Moses Rauluni conceded. "We will have to go back to the drawing-board and see where our mistakes were.
"England controlled the ball better than we did. The French are a lot like us and will attack from anywhere so it's going to be a tough game.
"But we'll have a week to prepare and now we've played one game together."
England outscored the Islanders by five tries to one, but will face a totally different type of challenge over the next few weeks as they take on the might of Australia, South Africa, and then New Zealand.
“I'm reasonably happy with that," said Johnson. "It was stop-start. That's understandable because this was our first match together and we were trying to put some things together."
"We're in a pretty good place and we're looking forward to next week."
Coach Johnson has since suggested that England will find their next match against Australia a far easier prospect to deal with than the unpredictable Pacific Islanders. That is not to be taken out of context though, as naturally they’ll be able to prepare better against a side they know more about.
All in all, it was a solid performance by England, setting up an intriguing encounter against the Wallabies this coming weekend.
World Cup holders South Africa opened their November international season with a 20-15 victory over European champions Wales at the Millennium stadium on Saturday.
Centres Adrian Jacobs and Jean de Villiers scored tries either side of halftime and Ruan Pienaar, starting at flyhalf for the first time in a test, kicked 10 points.
Wales missed their chance to claim only their second victory against South Africa after trailing 20-3 early in the second half.
Replacement flyhalf James Hook converted four penalties to bring Wales back into contention in front of British and Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan, who was in the Cardiff crowd, only for the Springboks to prove their qualities in defence and secure the win.
Job done for the Springboks, who seemed to take their foot off the gas in the second half, but the Welsh will rue not being clinical when needed. Coach Warren Gatland was incensed afterwards, saying he laid into his team.
“I am absolutely furious – we have let ourselves down. If you want to nail the big teams, you have to nail the big moments and we did not do that,” he said.
PLEASE NOTE: Mediazone have removed this video unfortunately.
A few weeks back we featured a rather amusing clip of Harlequins and England winger David Strettle on the sports quiz show A Question of Sport. Strettle looked quite foolish as he revealed that his knowledge of rugby isn't too great. This week, we’re following up with a clip of his England compatriot, Paul Sackey.
Sackey appeared on an earlier edition of the show, joining the fun with the usual comedic exploits of Matt Dawson, and the nutty Phil Tufnell.
The home question for Sackey and his team was fairly straight forward if you’re a rugby fan who pays attention to the goings on of the rugby world.
Sackey clearly had no idea though, and as one of our regulars mentioned on the Strettle post, he seems to be one of those players who treats rugby more like a job than a passion. If that is indeed the case, it’s perhaps one of the biggest downfalls of professionalism as we know it.
His reaction when being told the answer isn’t quite as funny as Strettle’s was, but it’s the antics of ex Test cricketer Tufnell next to him that we found hilarious. What made the whole thing worse though was that Sackey couldn’t even respond to Tufnell's amusing description of Victor Matfield.
All respect to Paul Sackey - on the park he’s a great player with loads of electricity. But off the field, in terms of rugby trivia, perhaps the lights are on but nobody’s home.
England gets the Martin Johnson coaching era under way at Twickenham on Saturday with a mouth watering clash against the touring Pacific Islanders team. It will be anything but a walk in the park for the hosts, as the combined Fiji, Samoa, and Tongan side comprises of top notch talent who have the ability to turn a game on its head.
While England will be looking to build continuity and combinations ahead of three weekends of massive Test matches, the Pacific Islanders will as always, be out to prove what a force they can be.
They’ve picked a strong side, and with the privilege of having the captains of each of the three nations, they’ll have plenty of experience and leadership to call on if the game goes down to the wire.
With experience playing in France and the UK, the Pacific Islanders backline contains a who’s who of star performers from both the Guinness Premiership and the Top 14. Names like Delasau, Rabeni, Mapasua, Tagicakibau, and Ratuvou all have the finishing ability to snap up the smallest of chances afforded to them.
The forwards read pretty similarly as there’s experience all round. The hard hitting loose trio in particular will be out to intimidate and leave their mark as the side go in search of a historic first win at Twickenham.
One of the features of the match will be pre kick off as we’ll see the fascinating Siva Tau performed as a challenge to the opponents. It comprises of elements of the Fijian Cibi, the Samoan Siva Tau, and the Tongan Sipi Tau.
This short clip illustrates nicely how the three traditional war dances have been combined specifically for the Pacific Islanders – a side that will be looking to spring an upset or two over the next few weeks.
Team vs England 15. Kameli Ratuvou (Fiji) 14. Sailosi Tagicakibau (Samoa) 13. Seru Rabeni (Fiji) 12. Seilala Mapusua (Samoa) 11. Vilimoni Delasau (Fiji) 10. Pierre Hola (Tonga) 9. Mosese Raulini (Fiji) 8. Finau Maka (Tonga) 7. Nili Latu (Tonga) 6. Semisi Naevo (Fiji) 5. Kele Leawere (Fiji) 4. Filipo Levi (Samoa) 3. Census Johnston (Samoa) 2. Aleki Lutui (Tonga) 1. Justin Va’a (Samoa) 16. Sunia Koto (Fiji) 17. Kisi Pulu (Tonga) 18. Hale T Pole (Tonga) 19. George Stowers (Samoa) 20. Sililo Martens (Tonga) 21. Seremaia Bai (Fiji) 22. Epi Taione (Tonga)
Not too long ago we featured the 1996 classic Bledisloe Cup match between the Wallabies and the All Blacks from Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Frank Bunce scored the late winning try, but it was Michael Brial’s malicious attack on him early on that had many people talking.
Six minutes into the crucial Tri Nations match big Jonah Lomu was superbly tackled by the much smaller Ben Tune. As the ball was recycled, All Black center Bunce picked up, but was confronted by the uncompromising Wallaby number eight, Michael Brial.
Brial unleashed a barrage of seemingly unprovoked strikes as Bunce played punching bag for what seemed like ages. Not too many of the shots actually landed, but the incident sparked outrage in the New Zealand camp.
Astonishingly, referee Jim Fleming chose not to send Brial from the field, instead only reversing the penalty that was originally awarded to the Wallabies.
New Zealand coach John Hart was outraged at Fleming’s ruling of the incident, with Bunce, the man on the wrong end of it, being equally surprised.
"I couldn't believe it – he went right over the top," Bunce said afterwards.
It later emerged that Brial may still have held a grudge about the way Bunce flew into him at a maul, injuring him, four years earlier.
Wales host South Africa at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday as the World Champions take on the Grand Slam winners at home. We thought we’d take a look back ten years as in 1998 we saw two very contrasting matches taking place, with 6 months being a very long time in rugby.
Wales toured South Africa in June of that year with an inexperienced side and got the hiding of all hidings at Loftus Versfeld as the Boks ran riot, winning the game 96-13.
In November though, with the Millennium Stadium still being developed, Wembley played host to a rematch as the Springboks took on the Welsh at their temporary home. 55 000 people turned up in the hope of seeing an improved performance from the Welsh side who’s pride took such a knock only a few months earlier.
The home side raced off to a fantastic start as a quick tap from Rob Howley sparked a surge up field that ended in Gareth Thomas, with a full head of hair, diving in at the corner for a superbly taken try.
With Neil Jenkins on song, Wales sped ahead to a 14-0 lead as the kicking maestro tallied up 600 points in international rugby.
South Africa fought back though, and after a period of pressure on the Welsh tryline, were awarded a penalty try, shortly before Pieter Rossouw broke the line and offloaded to scrum half Joost Van der Westhuizen for the try.
The sides went into the halftime break level, but through the second half penalties were traded, with the score eventually sitting on 20-20 with little time remaining and a draw looking on the cards.
A break from the persistent Van der Westhuizen resulted in the ball ending up in Andre Venter’s hands after a Rassie Erasmus fumble. Venter fell over the line to snatch the win and break Welsh hearts after such an impressive start to the match.
The conversion was missed, but a late penalty meant the score ended at 28-20 to South Africa after a classic Test between the two sides.
This year Wales went down 2-0 to the Springboks in South Africa, despite showing performances that were anything like the disaster of June 1998. Saturday looks set to be another classic as the two sides meet on the spectacular stage that is the Millennium Stadium.
Time: 01:48 Note: The quality and editing on this is a little sketchy at times, but we'd like to make another appeal to all those with older footage from tapes etc, to submit or edit it, and we'll feature it on the site. Extra: You can view an interesting interview with Bryan Habana ahead of the match here
A week after their surprise 30-25 victory away at Clermont, Montauban once again showed that they’re one of the more exciting teams in the Top 14 as they ran in six tries on their way to crushing the struggling Toulon 42-20 at Sapiac.
Star Fijian wing Vilimoni Delasau once again showed that he’s one to watch as he himself crossed the tryline three times as his side romped to a 42-3 lead with twenty minutes left in the match.
Dominated up front and torn to pieces out wide, the big spending Toulon looked in disarray, but didn’t manage to score three late consolation tries.
One of the more bizarre moments in the match came shortly before halftime as a snap Montauban dropgoal hit the post, then bounced down before hitting the crossbar and popping over for the three points. It perhaps summed up Toulon’s night.
With so much controversy surrounding coaching positions at the club, one wonders what kind of affect this is having on the players in the camp, who at the end of the day, just want to play rugby. Surely all the off field distractions don’t help any, as shown by this result.
Cardiff Blues progressed to the EDF Energy Cup semi-finals after a well deserved 24-18 home win over Bath in Cardiff on Friday night.
In the second half Bath were awarded a penalty try after wing Joe Maddock was prevented from scoring a try. The resultant kick conversion was pretty interesting too.
It all came about from a fantastic passage of play, sparked by the ever impressive kiwi winger Joe Maddock who streaked through the line of defence and looked set to score a fairly simple looking try.
As he stepped inside the covering defence though, it was another kiwi, Jason Spice, who stuck out an arm and caught Maddock around the neck, sending him spiralling to the ground.
The referee, Nigel Owens, awarded a penalty try but decided against the yellow card as he felt the tackle from Spice was accidental.
Maddock, who was probably still a bit dazed following the incident, had his kick charged down from directly in front of the posts, as Richard Mustoe shot off the line. An interesting clip, with some perhaps thinking that Spice should have been yellow carded too. Opinions will vary no doubt.
The All Blacks and Wallabies met in Hong Kong on Saturday for a historic first ever Bledisloe Cup match held outside of Australasia. The All Blacks came from behind to win the game 19-14 and retain the Bledisloe Cup, making it 3-1 to New Zealand for this years game's between the two arch rivals.
The match in Hong Kong was by all means a success, with the fantastic stadium packed with locals and travellers alike, the game is said to have generated over £5.5m.
There is now talk of further meetings between the two sides taking place abroad, with both the United States and Japan being prime candidates for hosting the fixtures.
Australia rugby boss John O'Neill said: "We have got a formal proposal from Denver to host the Cup next year.
"We are also talking to the Japanese about the possibility of holding the game in 2010 in Tokyo."
New Zealand are now in good stead after Saturday's victory ahead of their Grand Slam tour of the UK. They will play Scotland, Ireland, Munster, Wales and England.
"It sets us up well for this tour. Hopefully we can keep progressing as the tour goes on. It's been a good week and we'll look to next week now," said Dan Carter, who played at inside center on the day.
"It's always a tough challenge, doing the Grand Slam. Often you have to grind out wins. We've done it on a couple of occasions now and it's good to know we've got that character within the side."
The next few weeks promise to provide a huge mental and physical challenge for the AB's, but one man who unfortunately won't be there to take part in the experience is hooker Andrew Hore. He picked up an ankle injury in the opening minutes in Hong Kong, and will now be replaced on tour by 22-year-old Hawke's Bay hooker Hikawera Elliot.
We've found some short highlights of the match for you, but would like to know what your thoughts are regarding the possibility of further Bledisloe Cup matches outside of Australia and New Zealand? Also, are the All Blacks good enough to achieve the Grand Slam this year, or is it far from a foregone conclusion?
While we strive to bring you the best action from the present, one of our core goals is creating a rugby archive that encompasses all the great moments from the past as well. That includes looking back on legends of years gone by. On this occasion, that legend is JPR Williams.
A name synonymous with Welsh rugby of the 1970’s, JPR was a multi talented sportsman who achieved great things in tennis at a young age. Despite that success, he chose to instead continue his medical studies, while playing rugby, which was then as we know, strictly an amateur game.
Tennis’ loss was rugby’s gain as John Peter Rhys Williams thrilled fans in a career spanning over ten years. His trademark sideburns and cavalier style made him one of the most recognisable figures in sport.
Tough as nails, JPR had a habit of making crunching tackles on opponents who would normally have otherwise scored. Defensively sound, he was also an incredibly exciting runner with ball in hand.
In a twelve year period, JPR helped Wales to six Triple Crowns and three Grand Slams. He has an unbeaten record against England, and took part in British & Irish Lions’ wins over New Zealand and South Africa.
In total, with much less rugby played back then, he tallied up 55 caps for Wales and 8 for the British Lions. In a time when your day job put food on the table, Williams unfortunately had to rule himself out of the 1977 Lions tour so he could concentrate on upcoming surgeons exams.
This short clip shows us some fairly rare footage of JPR’s best bits of action on the rugby field. He’ll forever be remembered as a great of the game who played in, and contributed to a wonderful era of Welsh rugby.