Amid one of the biggest drug scandals in rugby history, former Bath trio Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett, and Andrew Higgins face a Rugby Football Union hearing over their alleged use of prohibited substances.
They are accused of conduct which is prejudicial to the interests of the sport due to a number of charges, including the consumption of prohibited substances, and refusing to undergo drug tests while under contract at Bath.
All three resigned from the club suddenly, but have vowed to fight the charges.
"This is a matter that we take very seriously and will do everything possible in order to clear our names," they said in a joint statement.
The hearing decision is expected to be heard on Monday.
Earlier in the month, fellow Bath player and former Australian international Justin Harrison was suspended for 8 months after admitting to cocaine use.
Harrison was released early from his contract prior to a misconduct hearing following a London party which ended in him being punched in the face.
He was in line for a 18 month ban, but the way he dealt with himself subsequently, and his admission of guilt were taken into consideration.
In February of this year England prop Matt Stevens was handed a two year ban after a doping test showed that he had used cocaine. Stevens too admitted his guilt, and is now attending regular counselling sessions for a drug problem.
A few weeks after the ‘Test of the Century’ between the All Blacks and Australia, Ellis Park in Johannesburg played host to a match that was right up there with the best in terms of entertainment, action, and emotionally charged Test matches.
It was a thrilling encounter between the Springboks and the All Blacks which featured ten tries in total, with eight being scored before the break.
South Africa had been struggling, with coach Nick Mallet under fire following four successive defeats. The players were also under pressure, but they duly silenced their critics as they took the game to the mighty AB’s and prevailed.
They ran them ragged scoring five tries in 30 minutes before New Zealand fought back to close the twenty point deficit, and even take the lead at 37-36 following a Andrew Mehrtens penalty.
Robbie Fleck, in for the injured De Wet Barry, was lethal on the day as he scored two tries and troubled the opposition midfield whenever he had ball in hand.
The brilliant Christian Cullen scored his sixth Tri Nations try of the year and his 40th Test try in total. He scored again later, as did Tana Umaga who looked threatening whenever he had ball in hand.
The Springboks withheld the late onslaught though with some superb defensive work. Late in the game they camped in the New Zealand half before scrumhalf Werner Swanepoel picked up his second try as they hung on for the memorable 46-40 win.
Last year we featured a clip of former Welsh winger Nigel Walker scoring a fantastic 100m try for Cardiff against Pontypridd. Today we have a more in-depth look at the man's achievements in both athletics and rugby.
Walker is to this day, one of the fastest wings to ever play the game. He was an Olympic hurdler who competed at the highest level before turning to rugby.
When he failed to make the grade in 1992, he hung up his running spikes and pulled on a pair of studded boots.
In this interesting video we get taken back to where Walker trained as an athlete, as he talks about the differences he experienced in both sporting careers.
He touches on the transition he had to go through from being an athlete on his own, to joining the team environment and learning the ins and outs of rugby.
Switching to the Olympics once again, Walker gives his thoughts on the possibility of Sevens becoming part of the Olympic Games in the future.
The 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand will sadly be remembered most for the political turmoil off the field, culminating in a light airplane circling the pitch during the final match in Auckland. This was the Flour Bomb Test.
Political tension was at an all time high with South Africa’s Apartheid policies being opposed by fans and citizens of New Zealand. For many, the Springboks weren’t welcome, as riots and clashes with police became the norm throughout the tour.
It’s been said that South Africa being in New Zealand divided families, friendships, and the Nation. Some just wanted to see good rugby and leave politics out of it, while others were protesting against Apartheid.
It sparked the biggest civil disobedience campaign in New Zealand’s history, as the country sadly turned on each other with violence taking place whenever the Springboks played.
The third and final test would decide the series. Off-field events overshadowed the game itself once again, but the All Blacks won 25-22 thanks to an injury time penalty by Alan Hewson.
Outside of the ground all hell broke loose though. The streets surrounding Eden Park were host to fighting, as police were pelted with rocks and missiles. Some have since said that genuine protesters were joined by opportunists who simply wanted to fight the police.
Security at the ground was tight, so the battle was taken to the sky as Marx Jones and Grant Cole hired a Cessna aeroplane, and circled the stadium for the duration of the match. They dropped flares and flour bombs in an effort to stop the game.
The match continued, and it was ironically All Black prop Gary Knight who was felled by a flour bomb. Marx Jones spent 6 months in prison following the events of that fateful day.
Note: The first clip is a match/event summary. The second is of interviews in 2006 with All Black flyhalf from the day Doug Rollerson, as well as aeroplane pilot Marx Jones.
Life as a professional rugby player is far more demanding than doing a bit of running at training, and turning up on matchday, then having some beers afterwards. Gone are the days of players getting by on talent alone. It's now a full time job, and one that requires a lot of hard work.
These days, players get very little time off. Even in the off-season, they're training hard, using that time to bulk up and get in supreme shape for the season ahead.
The demands on the body are greater, as players are now bigger and stronger than ever before.
Weight training, fitness, and nutrition form a huge part of being in the peak physical condition to take on a new season of top class rugby.
Gloucester are one side who are leaving nothing to chance by using every spare minute to make sure that they're at the top of the game come kickoff.
"We are working harder than ever because everyone is so enthusiastic. It's not that we haven't worked hard before, but it really is an enjoyable place to be at the moment," says flanker Andy Hazell.
"We have changed a lot of the things were are doing, and some of the emphasis on the way we are looking to play. Everyone is doing things with a smile on their faces."
"(Fitness coach) Mark Bitcon is doing his first pre-season, and with Bryan Redpath as Head Coach there's a whole new feeling about the squad."
We've had a few requests for the Haka from the Tri Nations Test between the Springboks and the All Blacks this past weekend in Bloemfontein.
The home side, the Boks, won the match 28-19 in what was yet another tense and entertaining Test match between the two countries.
The look of intensity on the players' faces prematch, during the Haka, told a story in itself as these two sides went at it for the full eighty minutes.
The Springboks looked the better side though, as the All Blacks' error strewn performance will be of slight concern going into the next Test in Durban on Saturday.
Sure, they had a challenging turn around after the long trip from Auckland, but very rarely have a South African side managed to dominate and look as much in control against the All Blacks, as they did this past weekend.
The mistakes of the first half cost the AB's dearly, and the second half is perhaps a sign of things to come, as they find their feet on tour.
The Test at Kingspark on Saturday will be yet another classic between these great rivals of the rugby world. Expect the All Blacks to bounce back, and the Boks to lift their game in order to keep them out.
National Rugby League referee Tony De Las Heras was knocked out cold last Friday night after being bumped over then kneed in the head as the South Sydney Rabbitohs charged towards the tryline against the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
Ref De Las Heras says he remembers nothing from the incident which left him lying motionless on the turf. Jamie Simpson accidentally collided with him, before Broncos forward Tonie Carroll knocked him unconscious with the knee, sending him to hospital.
"I don't remember anything, fair dinkum," De Las Heras said afterwards. "I'm OK. I'm still a bit dazed and have got a couple of headaches. I'm still pretty crook. I'm just nowhere."
Simpson, who hurdled over De Las Heras after bumping him over, actually suffered a grade one groin strain, later describing the collision as a freak accident.
"I was just speaking to Tony then and he said there was nothing I could do," Simpson said.
"He said I was heading for a try if I went the other way but I ran into him. I thought I was in for a try - all I could see was the white line, which is why I couldn't see him.
"I told him I was sorry, that I didn't mean it and I wanted to just check up on how he is."
The man who’s knee actually made contact with the ref, Carroll, missed the next match after injuring himself from the contact with the refs 'noggin'.
"That knee he whacked the ref with is a bit sore," Broncos coach Ivan Henjak said.
"I'm hoping it's not a long-term thing with TC, maybe another week."
Wallaby back Timana Tahu has walked out on Australian rugby union as he wants to return to rugby league with the Parramatta Eels, it was announced last week.
Reports have stated that Tahu was unhappy playing union, mainly based on the string of events that saw him spend much of his time coming off the bench.
He earned four Wallaby caps, but has now walked out on the remaining two years of his ARU and Waratahs contracts, taking a reported $100 000 pay cut in the process.
A league to union convert, Tahu had huge promise and the expectation for success in the 15 man game was high. He failed to deliver on his potential though, and along with a few injury problems, never quite made the impact most had hoped for.
When making the switch to union, Tahu was on the list of well paid and high profile league players who converted. Lote Tuqiri, Wendell Sailor, Mat Rogers, and Ryan Cross were all on that list. Cross is the only player that remains in union.
Waratahs officials said that there was little excuse for walking out mid-season.
"While Timana didn't get much game time, he was injured early on and when he did play more often towards the end of the year he showed some real flashes of brilliance," the official said.
"It was a tough back line to break into but the players thought highly enough of his contribution to award him our best back award for the year.
"But if Timana doesn't want to be here … then we're happy to work out an agreement, because you don't want players at your club who aren't committed. The disappointing thing is this is the second time he's said he's been happy in a code before switching that same week."
South Africa got their 2009 Tri Nations campaign off to a good start as they held of a second half New Zealand comeback to win the match 28-19 in Bloemfontein.
The Springboks dominated the majority of the first half, and despite a few missed kicks at goal, went into halftime 14-3 up after two penalties from Francois Steyn, one from Ruan Pienaar, and a neatly taken try by the Bok number ten.
Pienaar, who looked to have taken a heavy knock fairly early on, didn’t return in the second half, and was replaced by Morne Steyn, the hero of the epic second test in the British & Irish Lions series recently.
New Zealand came out looking like a different side in the second half, as they were far more organised and strung some phases together, culminating in an excellently taken try by centre Conrad Smith.
Stephen Donald was on form with the boot, but so was Morne Steyn, who kicked three penalties of his own, further extending the Springbok lead.
A late try from Jaque Fourie after pressure from Pierre Spies, took the stuffing out of the All Black comeback.
A penalty by Donald with five minutes left gave them hope, but it was replacement flyhalf Steyn who sealed the win for the home side with a late penalty from the half way line, denying the visitors the losing bonus point they were looking for.
The same two sides meet again next weekend, in Durban, for what should be another classic Test match between these old foes.
Today we have the next three parts of this fascinating documentary that looks into the history of the rivalry between two of the great rugby nations, South Africa and New Zealand.
In the first three parts we learnt about how the game was formed, and got into the 1956 Test series, leading up to prop Kevin Skinner dishing out what he could to sort out the intimidating Springbok back.
Part four continues where we left off, as it was the Boks who were now being dominated in the scrums for the first time. The tension between the front rows was intense, as we hear about the incidents between Skinner, Japie Bekker, and Tiny White.
Off the field, political tension was rife for many a year, as South Africa’s policies restricted playing with and against non-whites in their country. They met the NZ Maori side though on their tour, and the match was played as it should be.
Apartheid went on, and the tours to South Africa continued as normal, but without Maori players. In 1967 New Zealand made a stand, but were told they could not change the way it was.
In 1970 ‘honorary whites’ toured with New Zealand, including young Bryan Williams, who had a sensational tour. The ramifications of what was going on in rugby had far reaching affects, as Nelson Mandela himself talks about the situation from his point of view.
In 1981 the Springboks toured New Zealand under tumultuous conditions, including the famous Flour Bomb Test, which we’ll feature here on Rugbydump soon.
The Cavaliers was the next step in 1986, as sanctions were placed on South African sports teams, disallowing internationals to take place.
In 1995, after a new South Africa was formed, Mandela, and the whole of the country united to host the Rugby World Cup. The great man himself wore a Springbok jersey as he supported his team in the final against the old enemy, the All Blacks. South Africa won.
The great quest for supremecy continues to this day, and with such a rich history, the respect and fierce rivalry between the two sides is something that will surely last forever.
As well as thoughts on this documentary itself, what are your feelings about us sharing these type of clips? Would you like more of this type of thing occasionally?
This weekend in Bloemfontein the Springboks will host the All Blacks as another chapter of their story continues. It has been called the greatest rivalry in rugby, as the history between the two sides is filled with fierce competition and intense battles.
"When South Africa plays New Zealand, consider your country at war," said legendary Springbok Boy Louw when speaking to his team ahead of a Test against New Zealand in 1949.
In both countries, the game is like a religion, with the long running fight for supremacy a thing of legend. This fascinating ESPN Classic documentary looks at what is arguably the greatest duel in Rugby, the Springboks vs the All Blacks.
It is broken up into six parts with the first going back to the history of both countries, covering how rugby came to be, and how it came to prominence in different sectors.
Off the field, in the trenches, rivalry was formed and following successful tours to Britain, the world knew that these two sides needed to meet. It happened for the first time in 1921.
The Springboks were unbeaten in a series until 1956 when they arrived in New Zealand to much hype as fans were desperate to meet the players from South Africa.
On the field, the All Blacks took the first Test in the perfect start for the country. With Danie Craven in charge of the Boks though, they had an amazing leader and motivator, which helped them to take the second.
It was one of the dirtiest and toughest Tests between the two sides, with SA coming out tops. By the time the third Test came around, NZ demanded success, so they made big changes, including bringing in prodigious kicker Don Clarke.
The Springboks had one of the most powerful forward packs in the world, with a highly dominant and intimidating front row. So New Zealand brought in Kevin Skinner, a former heavyweight boxer. His impact was immediate, as Chris Koch found out in no uncertain terms.
After a dismal 2003, 2004 was a far better year for the Springboks as they went on to win the Tri Nations for the first time since 1998. Winning abroad was still an issue for them though, as this classic match was snatched at the death by the supreme finisher, Doug Howlett.
South Africa scored three tries through Jean De Villiers, Jacques Cronje, and Fourie Du Preez, as well as three penalties by Percy Montgomery. The first, from De Villiers, came within 23 seconds as they got the perfect start to the match.
The All Blacks stayed in touch throughout through five penalties from the boot of young Dan Carter, who had begun his rise to rugby stardom.
In the 79th minute, with the Boks in the lead at 21-18, the All Blacks got downfield and worked the ball wide to Howlett, who dived over in the dying seconds to break Springbok hearts.
Munster announced earlier this week that they’ve signed South African player of the year for 2008, center Jean De Villiers. De Villiers is on his way, moving from his beloved Western Province as soon as the current Tri Nations is over.
That is, if Western Province agree to release him early so that he will be eligible for the Heineken Cup, which has a deadline for registration by mid September. His current contract runs until mid October.
The 28 year old De Villiers is close to reaching the milestone of 50 caps for the Springboks, scoring 85 Test points in the process. He has proven to be a key player with his ability to read the game, most notably with his trademark intercept tries.
While to many intercept tries are considered lucky, there is a fine skill in mastering it. De Villiers said in a recent interview that he's been doing it since he was 14 years old, so there's no luck involved, just precision judgement.
At times injury prone, De Villiers has had bad luck in the past with unfortunate timing. He was part of Jake Whites U21 World Cup winning side, forming a center partnership with Clyde Rathbone.
When De Villiers received his Bok call-up, he injured his knee within the first few minutes of the Test, against France in 2002. He missed the 2003 World Cup because of that. In 2007 he was again unlucky, missing the tournament finale with yet another injury.
He’s bounced back from set backs though and when at his best and fittest, is a center of the highest quality, possessing creativity, speed, and power.
He’s captained the Springboks and the Stormers, and is a stand out guy both on and off the pitch. He will be a great addition to the Munster side, with Province and South African fans sad to see him go.
His namesake, South African coach Peter De Villiers, isn’t keen to pick players who ply their trade abroad. This Tri Nations may well be the last time we see JDV in a Springbok jersey.
We've included a short tribute video that shows a bit of JDV in action over the years. Munster fans should be delighted at another quality signing.
Time: 02:27 Note: The claim at the end is made by the person who created the video, not RD itself. Try restrain yourselves BOD fans.
Harlequins have been slapped with a mammoth £215, 000 fine for faking an injury to their wing Tom Williams during the closing stages of the Heineken Cup quarter final.
Williams has been suspended for a year for his part in the incident as he came off the field during the 6-5 defeat by Leinster in April.
His departure from the field, which was supposedly for a blood injury, allowed Harlequins to bring specialist flyhalf Nick Evans back on, for the remainder of the tense finish to the match.
There were complaints against Dean Richards and two members of the medical team, but those were dismissed.
"We are both surprised and disappointed at this decision - particularly so in the light of the acquittal of Dean Richards, Steph Brennan and Dr Wendy Chapman on similar or identical charges," said a statement from the club.
"The club and the player will consider their position in the light of the written judgement due to be handed down by the disciplinary committee."
TV footage formed part of the evidence looked at by the ERC panel, as well as statements from witnesses, both of which highlighted the fact that Williams appeared to wink as he left the field.
"It was the view of the committee that this was a very serious offence and one that damaged the reputation of the tournament and of rugby union," said a statement from ERC.
"Accordingly the committee imposed a fine of 250,000 euros (£215,000) on Harlequins, of which 50% is suspended for two years.
"The committee also suspended Mr Williams from playing rugby for a period of 12 months up to and including 19, July 2010."
Harlequins are considering appealing.
"Williams' 12-month ban is lengthier than Justin Harrison's eight months for drug-related offences, and Schalk Burger's eight weeks for gouging, bringing into question the continuity of how bans are administered," said Richards.
New Zealand drew first blood in the 2009 Bledisloe Cup and Tri-Nations series with an entertaining, hard-fought 22-16 victory over Australia in Auckland on Saturday.
With talisman skipper Richie McCaw back to lead the way, the All Blacks shrugged off their indifferent early-season form to come from behind and lay down a marker ahead of Tests in South Africa in the coming two weekends.
McCaw produced a strong performance but the return of Rodney So'oialo, Conrad Smith and Sitiveni Sivivatu also helped instil some composure and direction in the team.
The Australians raced to a 10-0 lead with less than 10 minutes on the clock as Berrick Barnes ghosted past some indifferent All Blacks defence to touch down after four minutes and Matt Giteau's conversion and a penalty gave them a handy lead.
Stephen Donald then missed his first shot at goal but made no mistake with his second attempt a minute later when Benn Robinson was marched 10 metres for throwing the ball away to put the penalty within kicking distance, but a poor decision by Donald in the 18th minute proved to be a turning point in the game as the New Zealanders got their tails up.
The ball came back off the legs of Giteau who dived forward to smother it before popping the ball up to Barnes. He evaded the All Blacks defence but held onto the ball too long then saw his pass to George Smith hit the flanker and go forward with the line begging. McCaw was then penalised for playing the ball off his feet.
Giteau saw his second penalty hit the upright before going over to put the visitors 13-3 ahead, but the All Blacks got themselves right back in the game though with a try to their skipper.
The ball found its way to Donald but he was nailed in the tackle and Conrad Smith gathered the ball and set McCaw away. Donald's conversion reduced the deficit to 13-10 and the score remained that way to half-time.
Donald got the All Blacks ahead early in the second half with two successful penalty kicks before Giteau replied to level the scores 16-16.
Hooker Stephen Moore was penalised for killing the ball allowing Donald to slot his fifth three-pointer of the night six minutes from time to put the home side 22-16 in front.
Stephen Donald has been chosen at flyhalf ahead of Luke McAlister for the opening Test of the Tri Nations series in Auckland this weekend.
Many expected McAlister to crack the nod, but Graeme Henry has taken the safe step of sticking with Donald for the big match.
Wallaby coach Robbie Deans says he isn’t surprised with Donalds selection though.
"We fully anticipated they'd opt for Stephen Donald if he was fit, simply because of his background in that role," the coach said before today's flight to Auckland.
"It's more a reflection of the fact he's more accustomed to playing 10, whereas McAlister lacks that background."
Deans said Donald had earned the right to start the Tri-Nations/Bledisloe Cup opener, due to several solid seasons of Super 14, and particularly his performances for the Chiefs this year.
"We are pleased with the way that Stephen has developed since making his debut last year, he played well under difficult circumstances in the two French tests this year and we believe he is the right man for this test," said New Zealand coach Graeme Henry when the 22-man squad was announced.
Richie McCaw is also back for the All Blacks, which will give them huge confidence going into such a crucial match. Tighthead prop Neemia Tialata says there was an extra buzz in the team's first run of the week.
"It definitely makes a difference when you have your two most experienced players back and we can take some confidence from that".
Eden Park is sold out for the match, with 32,000 seats available in the under-development stadium. New Zealand team: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Stephen Donald, Jimmy Cowan, Rodney So'oialo, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Isaac Ross, Brad Thorn, Neemia Tialata, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Jason Eaton, Kieran Read, Piri Weepu, Luke McAlister, Joe Rokocoko.
Australian team: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Lachie Turner, Stirling Mortlock (captain), Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Luke Burgess, Wycliff Palu, George Smith, Richard Brown, Nathan Sharpe, James Horwill, Al Baxter, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Ben Alexander, Dean Mumm, Phil Waugh, David Pocock, Will Genia, James O'Connor
Following the successful 1997 British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa, a fantastic DVD was released that captured behind the scenes footage of the antics that took place both on the field, and off it. Here we have a 2009 preview of what we might see when the latest DVD gets released.
While on tour, obviously the biggest goal is to achieve on the rugby field. These guys are only human though, and many of them youngsters, so having a laugh and enjoying yourself off the field is just as big a part of touring as winning is.
At a photo shoot in Bloemfontein ahead of the tour match against the Cheetahs, Ireland and Lions wing Tommy Bowe played cameraman and commentator, as he snapped some of the behind the scenes bits that take place with the media and sponsors.
First it’s a bit of commentary on the minorities of the tour party, the Scots, and then it’s a bit of boyish mischief from the Lions Player of the Series, Jamie Roberts.
Luke Fitzgerald found himself in poser mode, as he sat elegantly on the edge of an icy hotel swimming pool as Bowe and Roberts plotted his demise...
Watch the photographers as they run in to capture the moment, which we’ve compiled for you here in a series of pics.
The dust has settled after the tumultuous British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa for 2009 which the hosts won 2-1. The Lions restored pride though by winning the final Test. Total Rugby caught up with Lions manager, Gerald Davies.
Davies himself is a legend of the game, playing at wing for Wales before making his debut for the British & Irish Lions in 1968, then playing for them again in 1971.
As manager of the 2009 pack of Lions, Davies brought with him a sense of calm and old school values that were perhaps missing on their previous tour, to New Zealand in 2005.
"If there was such a thing as a Lions 'age', I believe we've gone some way towards recovering the spirit of it on this trip," he commented afterwards.
In this interview, Davies reflects upon the positives of the tour, and talks about the pride that they’ve restored with their strong performances.
He also touches on the fact that the Lions concept should indeed be around for a long time to come, despite many claiming that it’s lost its allure.
The 2009 Tri Nations series kicks off this weekend as the Wallabies travel to Auckland to see if they can beat the All Blacks there for the first time in 23 years. As a preview, we've pulled out footage from the 2001 thriller that was decided in the last minute by a now famous Toutai Kefu try.
Stadium Australia played host to an emotional evening as Australian rugby said goodbye to Michael Foley, Joe Roff, and legendary captain John Eales.
It turned out to he the perfect send off as this was the ultimate finale between the greatest of rivals, as winner took all in what was effectively a final of the Tri Nations.
Chris Latham got up high for the first try of the match as he soared above Jonah Lomu to collect a Stephen Larkham bomb before crashing over. Matt Burke was on fine kicking form, as he pushed the score up to 16-3 with four from four.
They resumed at 19-6 after halftime, but the All Blacks came back strong through a break by Pita Alatini, with Doug Howlett finishing off. Alatini and Lomu then combined, as the center flew over untouched for another great try.
It was a sensational comeback, with further penalties taking them up to a 26-19 lead. Australia got another penalty to take the score up to within four with less than a minute left on the clock.
From a lineout, it was Gregan to Larkham, who then backhanded it to the powerful Toutai Kefu who charged through the defense for a dramatic try in the dying seconds.
It was a fairytale win for the Wallabies and a perfect send off for their great leader John Eales, as the pulsating 29-26 win resulted in them successfully defending the Tri Nations.
"It's great to go out with a win," said an emotional Eales afterwards.
"I guess I'll have to buy Toutai Kefu a beer for that."
Occasionally we get contributions and links sent in of rare archive footage that's been converted to digital and uploaded to be shared with the rugby world. This is the case with this great clip from the 1991 Hong Kong Sevens.
The superstar Fijians came up against a talented Barbarians in the Semi Final of the 1991 Hong Kong Sevens tournament. The BaaBaa's last won the tournament in 1981, so all was to play for.
They had a mix of players, mainly English, that included the likes of Jeremy Guscott, Will Carling, Rupert Moon, Mick Skinner, and Andrew Harriman.
It was mainly about the men in white though, as they possessed fire power in the form of Tomasi Cama, Noa Nadruku, and a young Waisale Serevi, who himself went on to once again pick up player of the tournament.
Naduku's try, which featured many passes changing hand from the kickoff, must surely be one of the best tries ever seen on the Sevens stage.
Fiji were too good on the day, with this classic match ending 22-14. They went on to beat New Zealand 18-14 in the final, picking up yet another Hong Kong Sevens title.
As the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa has come to an end with the usual discussions about refereeing, as well as a famous last minute penalty, we’ve had a request for some footage from a match in 1993 that featured much of the same.
The ’93 Lions were the last of the amateur era. Led by Gavin Hastings, they were coached by Ian McGeechan, who upon taking the reigns became the first man to coach the Lions twice.
The makeup of the squad was entirely different to what we’ve seen this year, as it was dominated by English players, with no less than 17 of the 30 players on tour, the most ever.
The first Test took place in Christchurch, ending in a narrow 20-18 win for the All Blacks who scored a controversial try within two minutes of kick off as Frank Bunce dived over after collecting a Grant Fox high kick.
The Lions came back strongly and played some good rugby in the second half, as Hastings and Fox exchanged penalties. The Lions led 18-17 with little time left, before Australian referee Brian Kinsey awarded a hotly disputed penalty.
Fox coolly slotted the kick, snatching the win away from the Lions, causing anger amongst Lions fans and coaching staff.
The All Blacks went on to win the series 2-1, and we’ll show you footage from the other two matches if you’re interested.
In his report after the tour, Lions coach Ian McGeechan highlighted the differences between the approaches of the northern and southern hemispheres.
He said that the north plays a more static game, which is in contrast to the south’s dynamism and continuity. It’s now sixteen years later, and the debate continues.
Look out for some superb play by Jerry Guscott, as well as a great run and big hit by Inga ‘The Winger’ Tuigamala.
All Black lock Chris Jack scored a debut try for Western Province in the Currie Cup after no less than 22 seconds as his new team beat the Shark 29-15 at Newlands on Saturday.
Jack joined Western Province following two years with Saracens in England, bringing a wealth of experience to the Cape Town based side with his 67 test caps for New Zealand, as well as nine years with the Crusaders.
His considerable bulk will also go a long way towards beefing up the traditionally weak Province forward pack, and he will partner former Lions lock Anton Van Zyl. "For us as coaches he's been brilliant," said WP assistant coach Robbie Fleck.
"The way Chris has settled in to the side after three days of training has been phenomenal, he's been the ultimate professional."
"When I first met him he was as quiet as a churchmouse," admitted Fleck.
"But when we got him on the training paddock there was this transformation to this guy that was talking and communicating, and everything that came out of his mouth made perfect sense, and everyone understood straight away why he's the player that he is.
"He's a man of few words, but a man of action."
He was all action shortly after kickoff as he got himself in the game instantly, charging down a Rory Kockott attempted clearance kick before gathering and diving over in the corner unchallenged.
Not a brilliant try by any means, but a great start to his Currie Cup and Western Province career, which we think New Zealand and Saracens fans might appreciate seeing. We'll keep tabs on his progress throughout the season.
We've come across a pretty ridiculous, but fairly entertaining video for you today from the third test of the epic Lions vs Springboks series that concluded in Johannesburg on the weekend.
Young Heinrich Brussow was a thorn in the Lions side since their meeting with the Cheetahs, a match in which he single handedly got the home side back in the match by dominating at the breakdown.
His rise to the top has been rapid, and with injury and disciplinary problems from Schalk Burger, the youngster from Bloemfontein has take his opportunity with open arms and now looks set to be in the Springbok fold for many years to come.
As a genuine fetcher, Brussow, one of the smaller forwards in world rugby, realises that his game is pushed to the limit of the law.
"It's a fine line a fetcher has to walk - you have to be bold but you have to be careful, especially with three points against you a possibility if you transgress. You walk a tightrope.
"Slowing ball down is one of the keys to success in Test rugby because it gives your defensive line more time to get organised.
"At the same time, if I can turn over their ball, we have a superb backline that is very dangerous on the counter-attack. So if I give the guys an opportunity on both counts I will have done my job."
Funnily enough it was the Lions' Welsh fetcher supreme Martyn Williams who was slowing down the ball in the third test, as he got it lodged between his legs, preventing the Boks from taking a quick tap.
Brussow got frustrated, then literally manhandled Williams as he tried to shake the ball loose as if he were dusting off an old rug. The comical incident led to this crazy video, and a move we've named the Brussow Bounce. Don't try this at home.
Discussion Point: It seems that these days players get away with a helluva lot by preventing a side from taking a quick tap when a penalty or free kick is awarded. Should referees be stricter in governing this offence, or is it just part of the game?
The much anticipated final of the School of Hard Knocks is finally here. Will Greenwood and Scott Quinnell have sculpted a group of troubled youths into a hardened rugby team over a period of a few weeks, and their final challenge is upon them.
It’s been quite a ride for the boys, who joined the programme from different backgrounds, all of which were troubled or mislead, and none of which had any previous involvement with rugby.
They’ve had their ups and downs, but they’ve made it to the final hurdle as a changed group of boys as they set out to play against an experienced and well organised team that pushes them to their limits.
Along the journey they’ve not only learnt about rugby, but about themselves as individuals and see that all things are possible through hard work and determination.
They’ve taken a hold of their lives now and look set to be stronger, better, and more focussed than ever as they’ve found a sense of self-worth and togetherness that many of us would have experienced through this great sport.
Everything they’ve learned has come down to this one final test, as they run out together to have the time of their lives and see if they can put everything they’ve learnt into practice in this, the final episode of The School of Hard Knocks 2009. The final episode is 43 minutes long, so they're split into 5 different parts. It's well worth the watch, so enjoy. Apologies for the audio sync error on the first part. The rest are fine.
The 2009 British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa will forever be remembered as one of the toughest in the history of the sport. On the field, bruising encounters and tense finishes were the order of the day.
Off the field, plenty of hard work is put in to get to that starting Test side, but there's still time to relax and unwind, which is just as important on a tension filled tour such as this.
On this edition of the BBC's Scrum Safari, we catch up with the Lions players after the second Test of the series, as they attempt to wind down and take their mind off the disappointments of a gruelling tour.
The Lions went on a safari and get quizzed about the Big Five, a question to which most of them fail. We also get a behind the scenes peak at what's on the menu for the players, and then we see the guys back in Johannesburg, heading to the movies for the night.
It's then back to the ever loyal fans, who throughout the tour have been fantastic with their support for their side. Telly Tubbies, Cheerleaders, and Lions, we've seen it all on this tour. Enjoy.
British & Irish Lions lock Simon Shaw has been suspended for two weeks following the third and final Test against South Africa at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Shaw, who’s had a fantastic tour at the age of 35, clumbsily fell with his knees into the back on Springbok scrumhalf Fourie Du Preez.
Assistant Referee Vinny Munroe recommended a yellow card to Ref Stuart Dickinson. Shaw spent ten minutes on the sideline.
The England second rower appeared before judicial officer Alan Hudson at a hearing on Sunday and was found guilty of dangerous play. Incidentally, Hudson is the same official who was involved in both the Schalk Burger, and Bakkies Botha suspensions.
With the Lions tour over and the domestic season not due to start until August, Shaw’s ban will commence on 9 August and finish on 22 August.
While many will feel that a yellow card was sufficient punishment, Shaw’s dangerous knee into the back caused pain and discomfort to Du Preez, who stayed on but struggled, and was later replaced by Ruan Pienaar.
The precedent seems to have been set, as judiciary officers appear to now be taking the outcome of misdemeanours into account.
The British & Irish Lions have ended their 2009 tour of South Africa on a high after convincingly beating the Springboks 28-9 at Ellis Park in the third and final Test.
While the Springboks celebrated winning the series with their dramatic win at Loftus Versfeld last weekend, they treated the third Test as an opportunity to try out different combinations ahead of the Tri Nations. Ten changes were made, and it showed.
The Lions on the other hand made seven changes, many of which were forced by injury. It didn't affect them though as they came out firing with high intensity levels that the Boks struggled to compete with.
Shane Williams broke his drought as he scored two tries that both came from brilliant individual touches, from Jamie Heaslip and Riki Flutey respectively. Ugo Monye scored the Lions third try with an intercept as the Boks went searching for points.
"It's a satisfaction but a secondary satisfaction because we came here to win the series. It will be my last Lions involvement. I'd like to thank the players, they've been outstanding to a man," said Lions coach Ian McGeechan.
Springbok captain John Smit said: "We had a wonderful series but would have loved to complete a whitewash so we're disappointed. We just were not in the right frame of mind. The Lions wanted a victory and they succeeded."
"But if you had to said to me the series would have been 2-1 beforehand, I would have taken it. The Lions series was always going to be our priority this year and it’s been an amazing experience. To win a series, for me, is right up there with the World Cup." White Armbands
The Springboks took to the field with white armbands that had the word 'Justice' on them as a protest over the two week suspension of Bakkies Botha for a charge into a ruck last weekend.
Piet Heymans, chief executive of the South African Players' Association, explained.
"The Springbok players all feel for Bakkies as he will miss this memorable final test against the British and Irish Lions," Heymans wrote on the SARPA website.
"Over an extended period of time numerous other players have charged into rucks without binding but were either not penalized at all or received only a penalty. Bakkies hit a ruck just before this one in question in a similar style and was not penalized. Coaches are coaching players to hit rucks in this manner and therefore this is a major cause of apprehension."
Lions forwards coach Warren Gatland agreed. “We thought it was a tough decision, we had no issue with Bakkies. He has a history in the past of not using his arms, but on this occasion there was no problem.”
On Saturday we witnessed one of the greatest games ever to be played in Lions rugby history. It was an epic Test match that had drama from start to finish. The series is decided as a contest, but the British & Irish Lions live on, and still have plenty to prove as they must live up to those who fought before them.
We were hoping to post this brilliant video when the series was nicely poised at 1-1, adding to the excitement and build up towards the deciding Test at Ellis Park.
Instead, we're going to see if the Lions can redeem themselves by coming back and proving that they're worthy of wearing the famous red jerseys, and can indeed beat the World Champions in their own backyard.
The concept of the British & Irish Lions is steeped in history and tradition as legends of the game have represented four nations to join as one, and take on the the best from the south, every four years.
The task itself is of epic proportions, but to be chosen as a Lion remains the ultimate honour for any player from England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales.
This awesome video gives you a great feel for what the Lions is all about as we relive some of the greatest moments from past tours, as well as hear words from legends who've proudly been associated with the Lions.
In terms of a tour result, going down 2-1 certainly looks better than 3-0. Will the Lions be able to pick themselves up for this dead rubber on Saturday, gaining further respect and admiration by doing so? There's a few new faces on both sides, all of which have plenty to prove. We should be in for another classic encounter.
Springbok team: Zane Kirchner, Odwa Ndungane, Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier, Jongi Nokwe, Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez, Ryan Kankowski, Juan Smith, Heinrich Brussow, Victor Matfield, Johann Muller, John Smit, Chilliboy Ralepelle, Tendai Mtawarira Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Gurthro Steenkamp, Deon Carstens, Steven Sykes, Pierre Spies, Ruan Pienaar, Francois Steyn
British & Irish Lions team: Rob Kearney, Ugo Monye, Tommy Bowe, Riki Flutey, Shane Williams, Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips, Jamie Heaslip, Martyn Williams, Joe Worsley, Paul O'Connell, Simon Shaw, Phil Vickery, Matthew Rees, Andrew Sheridan Replacements: Ross Ford, John Hayes, Alun Wyn Jones, David Wallace, Tom Croft, Harry Ellis, James Hook
The month of June was jam-packed with international rugby action as Test matches took centre stage across the globe, with all the major sides either starting, or finishing their rugby seasons.
For the rugby fans, it's been a treat with big games every weekend and plenty to talk about. The good, the bad, the the fugly.
The British & Irish Lions tour has commanded most of the attention, as the Springboks managed to take the series 2-0. Unfortunately the series so far has been marred by some below par refereeing, and a few below the belt incidents. One match left though. Could go either way.
The All Blacks had a case of the blues as the French arrived in New Zealand with cock in hand, surprising them in the first Test. The AB's came back nicely though, to square the series 1-1. They went on to beat Italy, but are looking a little concerned ahead of the Tri Nations.
The Wallabies blew away a star studded Barbarians side in Sydney, then brushed aside the Italians who had an Aussie or two of their own. The French lacked gas in the tank when they travelled to Ausland, but had one of their better tours in recent times. The Wallaby backline are looking like they could be a potent force this season.
All in all it's been really entertaining, but has made it difficult to predict how the upcoming Tri Nations is going to pan out. One thing is for sure though, the month of June won't be forgotten any time soon. Let's hope July provides as much fun and enjoyment for us all.
We’ve got an insightful clip for you today that features some of the top players and coaches in the game discussing their greatest achievements in rugby, and in life.
For the majority of players, winning a major tournament would be the ultimate in satisfaction and happiness. It’s the culmination of a lifetime of hard work, time, and effort to get there.
But despite the professional era which at times sees players being treated like robots by the media and fans, they’re human after all. These guys have goals and ambitions off the pitch that many of us can also relate to.
For some their greatest achievements revolve around loved ones, national selection, or even just a special time in their life.
The players featured are from all different walks of life, who have made it to the top and achieved greatness on the field, and personal happiness off it.
We hear from Brian O’Driscoll, John Smit, Will Greenwood, Shane Williams, Justin Marshall, Keith Wood, and Mils Muliana to name a few.
Last weekend the New Zealand Under-20 side set the standard in junior rugby as they put on a highly impressive display against a strong England side at the Junior World Championship in Tokyo. New Zealand won the Final 44-28.
As always, the pool of talent in New Zealand runs deep as these youngsters showed that despite the senior All Blacks not having the most enjoyable time at the moment, the near future looks promising.
Scoring seven quality tries, the Baby Blacks secured the trophy with Junior World Player of the Year Aaron Cruden playing a part in most of them. Super 14 players such as Zac Guildford and Winston Stanley also contributed with quality play.
Leading 25-14 at halftime, the game was finely balanced with the well groomed and determined England side possibly having a chance of getting back into it.
Three minutes into the second half the Kiwi side scored again, which basically put the game beyond England, despite scoring a consolation try.
Some of these tries scored by the juniors are phenomenal. The support play, fifteen man rugby, and pure class shown at such a young age are something to behold.
Congrats to both sides who performed really well throughout the tournament, entertaining the enthusiastic Japanese crowds and no doubt contributing towards the continued growth of the game in that region.