Racing Metro eased to a 43-21 home win over rivals Toulouse in Paris on Saturday, scoring three unanswered tries and closing the gap at the top of the Top 14 table to just a single point.
The bonus point victory came from tries to Julien Saubade, John Leo’o, and Sebastien Chabal. Flyhalf Jonathan Wisniewski kicked six penalties and two conversions, as well as an impressive long range drop goal.
Freddie Michalak kicked seven penalties for the visitors for a personal haul of 21 points.
"I would like to congratulate my players because they remained alert for the whole 80 minutes," said Racing's sporting director Pierre Berbizier.
"It is really a wonderful win. I hope we can continue on this level. Our next challenge is to keep our feet on the ground."
Chabal, who was criticised for his performances for France of late, came off the bench and scored shortly after with a powerful charge from the base of the scrum, driving up and through French captain Thierry Dusautoir.
The following video is almost ten minutes long, and features extended highlights of the game.
Dutch winger Tim Visser scored another excellent Magners League try for Edinburgh as they beat Ospreys 23-16 at Murrayfield on Saturday night. Edinburgh were trailing 13-3 at one stage.
Jim Thompson and wing Visser both scored, which along with the boot of Greig Laidlaw, helped seal the win for the Scottish side.
Visser, who will be eligible to play for Scotland next year, finished off a wonderful flowing move that went from right to left before coming back to him in space on the wing. He then rounded British & Irish Lions winger Tommy Bowe without any troubles.
Next year can’t come soon enough for Visser, and Scotland fans, as he’s sure to be in the reckoning come selection time. "I spoke to Andy Robinson and he asked if I would be prepared to play. He said that if I keep improving there is a chance," he said.
"If I get the chance to play for Scotland I'll sing Flower of Scotland to honour the tradition and to pay respect to this country. My team-mates asked me the lyrics not too long ago and I think I managed the first two sentences. I'll have to work on that."
He’s said that while not being involved, he enjoyed watching the Six Nations recently.
"My dad played 66 times for the Dutch national team so I grew up with rugby watching him play. Every year we would tune in for Six Nations coverage.
"This year, I particularly enjoyed Italy versus France. The Italians have tried so long to beat one off the big teams in the Six Nations and in a tense match they finally did it.
"The look on their faces after their victory was priceless," he added.
Note: The commentary is in Scottish (Gaelic), as well as a bit of English at the end.
The Stormers maintained their unbeaten run in this years Super Rugby tournament as they steamrolled the Force with a 51-16 win at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday. These are three of the best tries that were scored in the match.
Namesakes Jaque and Deon Fourie - no relation – scored two tries apiece as the Stormers put in one of the performances of the weekend, tearing apart the visiting Perth side. Flyhalf Peter Grant kicked 21 points, while Jean De Villiers and Andries Bekker also crossed for tries.
The visiting Force got all their points through young James O’Connor, who scored an excellent individual effort and kicked the rest. There was some uncharacteristically questionable tackling on 20 year old O'Connor, but you can't take away from his great stepping and acceleration.
Hooker Deon Fourie scored the Stormers bonus point try with a brilliant individual effort down the right hand wing, while Jaque Fourie finished off a high quality team try, from turnover ball.
The six tries takes them to five from five in the tournament so far, with a trip to face the Sharks coming up next. Topping the overall table and remaining the only unbeaten side, the Stormers will be pleased with the news that Schalk Burger will be returning for that game in Durban.
Below are the three mentioned tries, which were the best of the game.
The first episode of this year's School of Hard Knocks seems to have gone down quite nicely here, so rather than delay things further, this is the second episode of the thoroughly watchable rugby show.
In episode one we were introduced to the show as they did some recruitment for players, which wasn't as straight forward as they'd have thought. In fact it was quite a challenge at times. This week, in episode 2, we learn a bit more about some of the personal stories behind the players.
A visit to see Mark Prince turns out to be quite inspirational for many of the guys, as it was last year when Prince was visited in his boxing studio. This time it's more about the talk, but he also pushes them to their limits with some work outs and a motivational chat that proves to be life changing for many of the troubled youngsters.
One of the highlights of the show is when some of last year's participants return to give a talk on how staying in the program turned out to be one of the best things that has happened to them, with things turning around in their lives, including now playing rugby regularly.
If you're in the UK, you can watch Episode 5 on Sky Sports 1 tonight at 10pm.
The Melbourne Rebels pulled off their second big upset in their short Super Rugby history, as they produced a stirring comeback to beat the Hurricanes 42-25 in front of their home crowd on Saturday.
Trailing 17-0 after just 18 minutes, it looked as though it would be a repeat of Round 5’s hiding as the Rebels struggled to get to grips with the powerful Wellington side, who had a whole host of All Blacks in their armoury.
They eventually got into the game though with a try to Rodney ‘Rodzilla’ Blake, and from then on the comeback was sparked as they played some fantastic rugby, with Stirling Mortlock having his best game of the season, and foreign imports Gareth Delve, Michael Lipman, and Danny Cipriani all playing their part.
Scrumhalf Nick Phipps was also a stand-out, and by the time he scored late in the match, it was all over for the visiting ‘Canes, who simply couldn’t deal with the continuity and free flowing style of the Melbourne newcomers.
Coach Rod Macqueen was impressed by his sides six tries, but realises that consistency is needed if they are to become a real factor in this tournament.
"That's what we're striving to do, we just need to do more of it. Next week we've got to front up again. It's a very tough competition," he said
"The reality is that everything's new to this side, everyone's coming together for the first time and to an extent, everything's a bit of an experiment. The biggest thing is getting a group of players together that haven't played with each other before and then each week it changes again because of injuries."
The Rebels travel to Perth in Round 7 to face the Western Force for an all Aussie derby.
New Zealand became kings of Hong Kong on Sunday as they beat England 29-17 in the Cup final at Hong Kong Stadium in the IRB World Series Sevens. This video shows their progress to the final, as well as one or two other nice tries.
The tournament proved to be a success once again as rugby, drinking, music, and dancing were all on the menu, not to mention fancy-dress. Capacity crowds of 40 000 people over the three days enjoyed the best of the international rugby circuit, with a few surprise packages.
In the end it was New Zealand who marched through to the final after some closely contested games, with their semi-final against Fiji particularly tricky. In the final they faced England who had beaten reigning champs Samoa in their semi.
The New Zealand team led by seven points at half time and from then on, they were too good as their speed and fitness showed in some extraordinarily long passages of open field play. The win has them now sitting pretty at the top of the World Series table, five points clear of England.
"Sevens is what is going to open rugby up to the world," said Jonah Lomu.
"It is going to go right through Asia, because it is a more level playing field than playing 15-a-side. Trying to explain to somebody the appeal of the sport, I would say come to the Sevens. You have the fastest players on the planet and the strongest players on the planet."
The series moves to Adelaide next weekend, before moving to England and Scotland in May.
Leicester Tigers gave Bath an almighty hiding in their Aviva Premiership meeting at the Rec on Saturday, scoring five tries to nil to come away 37-6 victors. There was one guy however who took the hammering more literally than others.
Fullback Abendanon, who was courageous throughout, took some of the biggest and most frequent hits you're likely to see this season. It actually became quite comical for the viewer, as whenever the fullback got the ball, there seemed to be a Pacific Islander sniffing him out.
First it was Manu Tuilagi who smashed him with one of the biggest, and possibly best, hits of the game. Not too much later older brother Alesana got in on the act, and from then on the England capped back was battered at regular intervals. As if dealing with the two Samoan brothers wasn't bad enough, Tongan Steve Mafi also pounded him late in the game.
Abendanon did show tremendous courage though, as no matter how often they dished it out, he kept getting up for more and put in a few good runs and one fantastic try saving tackle in particular. He eventually hobbled off the field with just over ten minutes left but when a fight kicked off, he miraculously turned up again, in the thick of it.
"I saw someone take a cheap shot at one of my team-mates and I dived on to the pitch to try and separate a few bodies. It was not the right thing to do, but I had taken a couple of good knocks to the head and maybe wasn’t sure of what I was doing," he explained, and said he has since apologised to the officials for his out of character behaviour.
It was a physically devastating, yet brave afternoon of rugby for Abendanon. While he was able to walk off the pitch after the huge knocks, he was no doubt feeling worse for wear the next day.
"Wonder why we play this game when I wake up feeling like this!" he said on twitter.
You can view highlights of the match, including a sensational try to Anthony Allen, on the Eplayer on the right of this post. Just look for the 'Eplayer highlights' text.
It's Monday morning and after another brilliant weekend of rugby, it's time to work out what you want to see on the site this week. While that happens, something that has been requested a lot is the Fox Sports Plays of the week, so here's weeks 4 and 5, mixed into one clip for you to enjoy.
It was a fascinating weekend of rugby as great matches were served up in the Aviva Premiership, Magners League, Super Rugby, Top 14, and at the Hong Kong Sevens. I guess you could say that there's lots to talk about, with plenty of incident and quality stuff on show.
The challenge now is sifting through the best of everything to continue to bring you the highest standard of clips here on RD. Part of that process, as has always been the case, involves you.
As is sometimes asked on the Rugbydump Facebook Page, if you spotted anything you'd like to see on the site over the past few days, please do get in touch with match details and the time that the piece of play happened at. This helps speed up the process, so everyone wins.
You're free to leave your request as a comment here, send in an email, or get on the forum and post it in the requests section. For now though, here's two videos mixed into one that feature the best and worst of not only Super Rugby for the last two weeks, but also a bit of the Six Nations. The Plays for the latest round, round 6, will be posted near the end of the week.
Time: 04:04 Note: Thanks to the guys at Fox Sports. You can follow Sean Maloney on Twitter @seanny202
The Crusaders turned it on in the Twickenham sunshine earlier today as their dazzling backs and powerful front five proved too strong for a determined Sharks team. The Christchurch side won 44-28 despite a Sharks comeback.
It was the first ever Super Rugby game outside of the Tri Nations countries and while it was a great spectacle and a wonderful match, it was forced through a natural disaster that has left Christchurch in the unenviable position of having to rebuild from the ground up.
As with all sport though, it has the power to change and while only a little over 35 000 people turned out at the home of rugby in London, money will have been raised, as well as the profile of not only Super Rugby, but the cause at hand.
The first half of the game was all about the sheer class of flyhalf Dan Carter, who ran the ship in a way only he knows how, providing the platform for league convert Sonny Bill Williams to release their dangerous backs. Their scrum was also impressive, as they pushed a Springbok front row in a manner that not many would have predicted.
While the Sharks sorely missed their chief playmaker in Patrick Lambie, the might of the Crusaders would have no doubt blow any side off the park, so the way in which the Sharks came back in the second half should also be commended.
At the end of the day though, this Crusaders side is something special, with running lines like no other, talent to burn, and as they showed the fans at Twickenham, on their day they can be unstoppable. The Sharks did look to get the better of the sub-exchanges later on, and Todd Blackadder and his team will be a little concerned at some of the injuries they picked up.
All in all, it was a brilliant spectacle, a wonderful advert for Super Rugby, and one of the more memorable games of rugby you're likely to see this season. Below is just one of the tries, as the game ended literally half an hour ago, but further highlights will be posted soon.
The Hong Kong leg of the HSBC World Series Sevens kicked off this weekend amidst much fanfare as the biggest rugby spectacle in the region continues to impress and entertain locals and visitors alike.
While Sevens may not be everyone's cup of tea, there's no doubting the skill factor on show and as has been said before on here, many top Test playing starts made their name in the shortened version of our wonderful game.
As you'll see in this clip, Samoan Lolo Lui shows that skill and speed isn't the only aspect of Sevens that makes it worth watching. He absolutely smashed his Tongan counterpart in their closely fought 24-17 win over their pacific rivals in Pool C.
Incidentally Lolo Lui was suspended recently after kicking England player John Brake in the head at the Wellington Sevens. If anyone is interested in seeing that clip, I'll try get it posted sometime soon.
Samoa are through to the Cup Quarter Finals, where they will face Australia. They got their with wins over Mexico, Scotland, and Tonga. This clip, from the IRB, also includes footage of two neat tries from the Japan vs England match.
Both of them came from nicely executed cross-field kicks. We'll have more of the best from the Hong Kong Sevens soon. If you watch the games and spot anything you think is worth posting here, please feel free to let us know.
A week ago England won the Six Nations Championship, despite a loss to Ireland in Dublin. The highlight of the game though, aside from the convincing Irish win, was Brian O’Driscoll’s breaking of a record that has stood for over 70 years.
Despite having a relatively poor tournament, Ireland finished on a high as they stopped England from picking up the much sought after Six Nations Grand Slam. For O’Driscoll, it was a day of personal triumph as the win was capped off with a historic 25th try for his country in the competition, surpassing Ian Smith's record that was set between 1924 and 1933.
"I didn't know Ian Smith myself! But 78 years is a very long time for a record to stand. It's great and a real honour, said O’Driscoll. "Individual accolades are what you think about when your career is finished, but I hope I have a bit left me in so I won't dwell on it."
The following video isn’t in the best quality possible unfortunately, but it’s still worth having a look at as it covers each one of the 25 tries the great centre has scored since making his international debut for Ireland back in 2000.
A brilliant achievement, big congratulations go out to the great man and it's good to hear that he may be back again next year, hoping to extend that record even further.
This coming weekend of Super Rugby is a historical one, as we'll watch the first ever game played outside of the Tri Nations countries, on Sunday. For now we'll have a quick look back at some of the best tries from the last round.
Possibly the biggest story of round 5 was the massive upset that the Waratahs suffered at the hands of the Cheetahs, a side that had never won in Australia in the history of the tournament. They fronted up, played percentages, and dominated the breakdown. A few cameos off the bench didn't hurt them either.
If offloading in the tackle was the main feature of previous week's best tries, this round could probably be slapped with the theme of speed, as we saw some tries scored at tremendous pace. That's not necessarily one-on-one pace, but the way that the ball is shifted through the hands to counter attack, or score off first phase possession even.
Rene Ranger was the recipient and supplier of two of the Blues tries against the Hurricanes as he showed his gas and offloading ability too. Sonny Bill Williams, as we've come to expect, did the same for the Crusaders against the Highlanders.
In the South African derby of the weekend, Bjorn Basson of the Bulls and Bryan Habana of the Stormers had a great tussle as Basson got the better of the Springbok for the first try, then Habana came back well with a typically hungry try.
As mentioned earlier, this weekend at Twickenham will be the first ever Super Rugby game held outside of Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. It's the Crusaders 'hosting' the Sharks and most of the proceeds will go to the Earthquake Disaster relief fund.
If you're nearby, check out Rfu.com for more info and to find out how to get tickets. It's a great cause, should be a fantastic match, and you'll get to see top All Blacks and Springboks in action.
The School of Hard Knocks is back this year with another thoroughly enjoyable series that is set to take you through the highs and lows of building a rugby team from scratch with a group of unemployed Londoners. This is episode one.
It's not the first time this excellent production has been shown on RD, with the previous few series' proving to be really popular amongst young and old. We've even had a few of the guys who took part in the show getting in contact, and also commenting here on the site a few times.
If you're unfamiliar with it, the show features former Test stars Will Greenwood and Scott Quinnell as they go about recruiting unemployed youths, this time from Croydon in London. The aim is to get them involved in a rugby team that will hopefully help to change their lives by teaching them lessons both on and off the field.
Discipline, respect, and drive is lacking in many of their directionless lives, even for those who come from privileged backgrounds, so it's fascinating to watch as the coaches form as mentors.
In the first episode they do a bit of recruitment and then head off to meet WBA World Heavyweight champion David Haye, who shows them what it takes to do a bit of training in his world. A few stars stand out, while Will takes a shot in the stomach that he'd rather forget.
The show is already up to the fourth episode so if you're in the UK, you can watch it on Sky Sports 1 on Monday nights. We'll hopefully have all the episodes for you here on RD. If you enjoy it and want to see more, please say so as your feedback is important.
It's 48 minutes long, so kick back, hit the full screen button, and enjoy.
Earlier today it was announced that Josh Lewsey will be coming out of retirement to play for Wasps, two years after hanging up his boots. It seems a good time to learn a bit more about what he's been up to since then, namely with his Everest expedition.
Lewsey, now 34 and working full time as a management consultant, has played in a few charity games recently. He's shown that he's still in excellent shape, so was approached by Wasps to provide cover for their back three until the end of the season.
It's a short term contract so he was happy to take up the opportunity to help out the club he played with for so long. "This isn't a long term thing but after playing in a couple of recent charity games, Leon and Shaun (Edwards) contacted me to see if I could assist the club for the remainder of the season," Lewsey said.
"If they think I could positively contribute to my old club in any way- be it on the field or around the dressing room on match days, then I'd be happy to do so."
As we'll be seeing him playing again soon, here's an excellent clip from Total Rugby in which the 2003 World Cup winner talks about his incredible experiences on Everest. It's really interesting to see what he's been up to, and starts two minutes in, after a bit of World Cup talk.
Five players have picked up suspensions for their part in a Top 14 mass brawl between Perpignan and Bayonne a few weeks back. Each club has been fined thousands of Euros for the fight, which included punches thrown after the final whistle at the Stade Aime Gira.
Remy Martin, Gregory Le Corvec, David Marty, and Aretz Iguiniz will all be relegated to the stands for the next month, following a decision from the LNR earlier tonight to suspend all give of them after they each were found to have thrown multiple punches.
It was a typically fierce tempered encounter between the two sides, as visitors Bayonne took to the pitch amidst a chorus of booing, perhaps setting the tone for what would be an occasion marred by violence.
Perpignan won the match 25-19, but yellow cards were dished out at regular intervals, with the worst of the fights taking place after the final whistle, with Le Corvec walking up to Martin and having a full go.
He will be out until April 22nd, while Marty’s case will be reclassified on April 12th. Bayonne flanker Jean-Jo Marmouyet also appears to have been suspended, with the same punishment as Marty. Aretz Iguiniz has been suspended for twenty days.
Perpignan meanwhile have been fined 7 000 euros, while Bayonne were handed a 12 000 euros fine, with the 5000 extra based on them being repeat offenders.
Gloucester were victorious at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday as they beat Newcastle Falcons 34-7 to win the LV= Cup at their third attempt. The try of the game was a classic, scored by the multi-talented Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu.
You will have seen Fuimaono-Sapolu here on RD sometime last week as he pulled off a sensational dummy against the Dragon's in the semi final. This time he's been involved in another superb bit of play, finishing off a try in which he touched the ball four times in the build up. Credit must also go to Nicky Robinson and Matt Cox, who were both heavily involved.
Samoan Fuimaono-Sapolu, who is actually 30 years old but still looks baby-faced, has since said that he believes they never would have scored the try if it weren't for the freedom of expression that has been offered to them by coaches Bryan Redpath and Carl Hogg.
"I want to give credit to Hoggy and Brushy, they've taken a lot of stick over the last year and a half. They said, (at halftime) 'right you've done all the hectic stuff, now get back to playing the way we want to play'.
"And the number one thing they tell us to do is enjoy rugby; enjoy playing the game, and just go out there and play. Especially for me, I need that and it pays off. If it wasn't for that, there would have been no blind passes inside and out from any of us for that try, there would have been none of that jazz.
"I was already there and Nicky came blind, he hit me, I put in a no-look pass back inside to Coxy, and he offloaded back to me. I gave it back to Dai, we criss-crossed and then he gave it back to me, and that's why I celebrated before putting it down.
"I just thought 'Whoah, I can't believe we just did that!' That was the moment, that was when we knew," said the qualified solicitor.
French hooker Olivier Azam, now 36 years old, viewed things slightly differently. "I didn't really see it: I was just trying to run behind him and catch up, but he didn't pass me the ball."
Ulster completed a dramatic 25-23 Magners League win over Newport Gwent Dragons on Friday night. The final few minutes included a drop goal apiece, with the decisive, match winning kick slotted by Ruan Pienaar.
Ulster moved to fourth on the Magners League table with the thrilling win courtesy of a dramatic finale as they snatched the win away from the Dragons, who themselves thought they’d pulled off the miracle late in the game.
Darren Cave scored for Ulster with just four minutes left, before Jason Tovey of the Dragons looked to have won the game for the visitors with his 79th minute drop goal. Springbok Pienaar then delivered the goods for the home side, after a perfect platform had been laid by his hard working forwards.
Pienaar, who won the game for Ulster with a long range penalty a few weeks back against the Scarlets, was modest when asked about his contribution. He gave credit to the forwards and said he was blessed to be able to play with such good players around him.
"I don't get many opportunities to drop goals and it wasn't the prettiest but at least it went over and we got the points. I just looked up and thankfully it went through the posts - it's a great result for us," Pienaar said.
"Paul Marshall reminded me that we could go for a drop goal so I have to give the credit to him and we showed a lot of character at the end."
This video shows the tries earlier in the match, as well as the last few minutes from what was an incredible, frantic finish to a rugby match. There’s also a short interview with Man of the Match Pienaar from directly after the game.
Lionel Nallet scored a brace of times as France brushed aside Wales 28-9 and leap-frogged the visitors into second place in the final 2011 Six Nations standings.
The agile French lock scored either side of half-time, with his tries killing off any ambitions the Welsh had of pulling of a shock win.
Whilst Ireland's 24-8 win over England meant that if Wales could beat France by 27 points they would be crowned Six Nations champions, they were blown away by a clinical France side who looked to reclaim some face after the shock defeat to Italy last week.
Welsh fly-half James Hook took a well-struck penalty early on and wing Leigh Halfpenney was fractions from a score until a brilliantly timed ankle tap from fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc prevented the score.
Instead it was France who got the game’s first try, with Nallett throwing a dummy and charging to the line; and when Hook's attempted clearance kick was charged down by Julien Pierre early in the second-half, Nallet was allowed to touch down for the second time.
Hook was in the sin bin for an alleged dangerous tackle when Vincent Clerc made the extra man count, collecting Trinh-Duc’s chip to score France's third try.
A content Marc Lièvremont said that he was encouraged by the manner with which his team bounced back from defeat to Italy last week.
"What is important here was the reaction of the players," he said.
"I feel happy. I also feel a bit of relief. I'm really impatient to leave this room to go and enjoy a beer. It's not about what was said outside the group but what was said within the group and this what went right on the field today," the coach added.
Bulls lock Bakkies Botha finds himself in hot water yet again following an alleged act of dangerous play on Stormers scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage during the Bull's 23-13 Super Rugby loss at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
No stranger to the citing process, Botha will go through it again as he is set to appear in front of a SANZAR judicial committee on Tuesday to determine his fate. If found guilty of the offence, his disciplinary record will no doubt mean that he'll face a lengthy period out of the game.
Interestingly, Referee Keith Brown - as well as his assistant referees - viewed the clearing out of Duvenage as nothing out of the ordinary, in what was a typically physical South African derby. Botha played on, and as you can see in the clip, attempted a similar clearout at the next ruck.
The citing only came later from SANZAR. Botha has been pulled up under law 10.4 (e) which refers to dangerous tackling specifically, and includes a line that says Playing a player without the ball is dangerous play.
It's a very similar incident to the one we saw between Botha and Adam Jones on the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa. The common perception with that one was that it was a harsh call. The difference here perhaps is that Botha continued on, driving down onto the much smaller Duvenage in a dangerous manner.
Luckily the nuggety scrumhalf wasn't badly injured from it, and continued on to take the Man of the Match award in what was a big win for the Stormers at fort Loftus Versfeld.
UPDATE 22/03/2011:Botha has been cleared of any wrongdoing. The not guilty verdict makes him free to play this coming weekend, against the Lions in Super Rugby.
The Judicial Officer, Jannie Lubbe SC, after careful consideration of the video evidence, the referee’s report, the citing commissioner’s report, Botha’s testimony and submissions by Botha’s legal representative, Gerrie Swart, concluded that he was not satisfied on the balance of probability that Botha’s action was in breach of Law 10.4 (e). The case was accordingly dismissed.
England’s Grand Slam dream became a painful nightmare at the hands of a ruthless Ireland team, who demolished the Red Roses 24-8 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin this weekend.
England may have been crowned the champions of the 2011 Six Nations, but the defeat, and the one-sided nature of it, will have left a bitter taste for England fans.
It was undeniably Ireland’s performance of the tournament, with David Wallace, Sean O’Brien, Brian O’Driscoll and Jonathan Sexton immense in every aspect of the game. England had no answer to the pace and power of Ireland, and no response to tries from Tommy Bowe and O’ Driscoll – who set a new all-time record for the tournament with 25.
England were harassed and bullied around the breakdown and the contact area, losing possession and even getting shoved off their own ball. The fierce environment had clearly rattled a few of the more inexperienced English players; most notably Toby Flood, Chris Ashton and Ben Youngs - who was shown a yellow card for throwing the ball into the crowd.
England coach Martin Johnson looked to his senior players to provide some stability in the second-half, bringing on Jonny Wilkinson, Steve Thompson and Tom Croft. But unlike last week, there was to be no second-half heroics from the bench. Steve Thompson saved some face for England and showed a surprising turn of pace to run in for an interception score, but it was small threat to an all dominant Ireland team.
The result was a reminder of the work that needs to be done before this year's World Cup in New Zealand, and a frustrated Johnson admits mistakes were made. "We got it wrong today," said Johnson, who captained England to the Grand Slam in 2003.
"Our first-half was horrible. We did everything you shouldn't do when you play away from home. We had a lot of guys doing this for the first time - not a Grand Slam decider but playing a full championship - and there were a few errors. We came to win and we've fallen way short. This is a scar and we'll have to wear that scar."
Ireland captain O'Driscoll was glad his side had proved that they had 'not become a bad side overnight'. "We knew we had a performance like that in us but for some reason we had not put it together in our four previous matches," said the Irish captain.
"We felt we hadn't set down a marker at the Aviva Stadium and we needed a reason to call it home again and there's no better way to do that than by beating England and it's a nice moment."
Scotland escaped the dreaded Wooden Spoon and got their first 2011 Six Nations win, beating Italy 21-8.Two tries were enough to see out the win for the home side, ending a barren run that saw them try-less at Murrayfield since November 2009.
Italy came to Scotland looking to build on their historic win over France last Saturday and things got off to an excellent start when the ever impressive full-back Andrea Masi scorched to the line for an early try.
Scotland hit back with a penalty from the immaculate Chris Paterson, and things remained closely fought for the remainder of the first half.
However, when Nick de Luca scored in the 47th minute, the momentum swung in the direction of the Scots. With Richie Gray dominating the line-outs and Sean Lamont terrorising the Italian defence, Scotland seemed to have found their rhythm; and when Nikki Walker touched down for his try, the win was sealed.
It was a well-earned victory for a Scottish team who started their campaign with a lot of promise, yet struggled to turn potential into points. Nevertheless, a satisfied Andy Robinson said that the win was well-deserved, yet did not mask a disappointing 2011 campaign:
"It was the result we were looking for - but it did not hide the fact that the championship has been a disappointment for us," said the Scotland coach.
"We had gone into the competition full of genuine hope and expectation in terms of challenging the other teams, but it didn't work out that way. We performed well in patches, but these patches were not long enough. Results at this level are determined in inches and until this match we did not win enough of these inches.
Italy coach Nick Mallett confessed that his side seemed tired following their win against France last weekend. "The guys ran out of steam a bit in the second half and that was a disappointment," he said.
"We should have put more points on the board in the first half when we had the bulk of possession and territory. When Scotland then began to put us under pressure, we did not respond the way I hoped we would," he added.
The Super Rugby Pick of the Week videos here on Rugbydump are basically a short compilation of what RD sees as the best tries in Super Rugby each round. It's proved quite popular, so before it's too late, here's the best from Round 4's games.
There were loads of tries scored, all with different attributes but one in particular that is quite evident is the offloading in the tackle, as you can see quite prominently in the following video.
Quite simply, if you offload accurately before or when going into contact, the ball will always beat the man, and tries will be scored. That, along with some hard graft from the forwards, is a pretty decent recipe for success. Some teams master it, with the Crusaders in particular being one of the best at shifting the ball into space, as was seen in their game against the Brumbies.
Sean Maitland scored a highly impressive four tries in that game, but went out of his way later to compliment the great work done by his midfield, none other than Sonny Bill Williams and Robbie Fruean. The latter was featured on here earlier in the week for his sensational trysaving tackle.
Elsewhere, the Rebels and Sharks scored some good tries, with the best coming from Danny Cipriani, who found some space and gassed the cover to score a great try.
Another top notch try came from the Chiefs against the Hurricanes, where Scott Waldrom actually started it with his turnover, then got there in the end to score it. In between, Liam Messam pulled out a huge sidestep (on a huge man) then fed his backs, with slick work from Stephen Donald, Sitiveni Sivivatu, and Tana Umaga allowing them to get close to the tryline.
The Lions also scored a few great tries, with the one by Derick Minnie probably being their best, and as said earlier, that one was a fine example of the offloading game coming into effect. There were also some quick hands by James Kamana, who is now actually suspended after a dangerous tackle in the same match. You can see a clip of that on the RD Facebook Page.
All in all, some really good tries were scored and when it's put together in three and a half minutes of video - with some high energy, possibly questionable music - you can't go wrong.
It's time for the last episode of the O2 Inside Line show as we head into the all important final weekend of the championship, with a Grand Slam up for grabs, as well as avoidance of the wooden spoon on the agenda for two teams.
Over the last few weeks we've featured this segment as a nice way to get you behind closed doors within a top international team. While some might have felt it was a bit of England overload, we'd like to think that most rugby fans would still get some value from the insight provided, especially in the week leading up to a big match.
In this case the clash this weekend is the England meeting with Ireland in Dublin, a game that will determine whether or not England pick up the Championship, and the Grand Slam.
In this week's Inside Line show Austin and Abi discuss their performance against Scotland, we experience more of the player-cam banter, and Tom Croft and Nick Easter answer your twitter questions while they attempt to draw a caricature of former England back, Austin.
Hopefully you've enjoyed the segment over the last month, and if you ever come across similar shows from other countries, or represent an official organisation that would like to do the same thing on the site, please do get in touch and we'll see what we can do.
To get the inside scoop on the squad, as well as fun features, match analysis and up to the minute player interviews with presenters Austin Healey and Abi Griffiths, sign up for alerts and watch O2 Inside Line on RFU TV at O2InsideLine.com
Biarritz came back from being 16-3 down to record a great 36-32 victory over Parisians Racing Metro on day 21 of the French Top 14 this past weekend.
Parc des Sports Aguilera was the venue as two-time European Cup finalists Biarritz put on a tremendous show for their home crowd, scoring four tries to two and giving themselves a huge boost towards their top six ambitions.
Racing weren't helped by the yellow carding of Francois Steyn for a high tackle on wing Zee Ngwenya. Julien Peyrelongue converted the penalty that was awarded for the offence, before Yann Lesgourgeus scored to bring the hosts closer.
Steyn redeemed himself somewhat in the second half, with a penalty from over 50m out, and that combined with another long range penalty and try to the visitors, put them in a 32-28 lead. It wasn't long before Biarritz crossed again though, with a penalty later on, four minutes from time, sealing it for the hosts.
"We were ahead on the scoreboard for quite a while without ever being able to drive home the final nail in the coffin. We were excellent for our first twenty minutes but we made too many errors afterwards which let the Biarrots back in the game," said Racing prop Julien Brugnaut.
Racing picked up a losing bonus point and remain in second place, but with Toulouse's win over Brive, the gap at the top is increasing.
Matt Banahan will be Mike Tindall’s outside centre replacement when England face Ireland in Dublin this coming weekend. Against Scotland Banahan showed that despite his inexperience in Test rugby, he's capable of making an impact.
The upcoming game against Ireland, all important as England seek out a Six Nations Grand Slam, will only be his second start at outside centre for his country, so its a make or break type of scenario, especially when you consider who the opposing midfield consists of.
We’ve seen what a physical presence he can be though, and while some viewed his charge into Scotland flank Kelly Brown as dangerous, Banahan himself denied there was any malice in it. It has since been dismissed, without an official citing even taking place.
It did look as though the initial contact might have been with the shoulder, but there was a leading forearm that may or may not have done some damage too. Whatever the case, Brown out cold for a while, before being carried off on a stretcher.
He later made a good recovery, with team doctor James Robson saying on Monday that Brown had been concussed, but was in good spirits. He has now been cleared to play against Italy in Scotland’s final Six Nations game at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Nick Easter take over from Tindall as captain of England for their clash with Ireland.
Ireland scrumhalf Eoin Reddan must surely be a contender for the record of quickest injured in an international, as he was knocked out just 22 seconds into the much talked about Wales vs Ireland Six Nations game on Saturday.
Reddan went to charge down a kick from Lee Byrne and managed to cop the ball flat in the face, seemingly knocking him out cold before he hit the turf. And hit the turf he did, as the thump on the ground would have done him no favours, meaning his immediate removal from the park.
He suffered concussion and while there were concerns over him not being able to play in the big game against England this coming weekend, he has since been included in the match day 22, and his start will depend on his visit with a neurologist.
This knock, while it was horrible to watch, reminds me of a few others we've seen over the years. Strangely enough all three come from down under, which is fitting as they coined the phrase 'Falcon' after all.
The most memorable are the knocks to Cory Jane and Kurtley Beale, and then a poor referee last year got in the way of a clearing kick, taking the full brunt of it.
Rupeni Caucau scored Toulouse's only try as they narrowly beat Brive 23-22 in the French Top 14 a few days ago. As with most of his career, the try he scored was anything but regulation.
Toulouse extended their lead at the top of the table despite being made to work hard against a Brive side that battled valiantly, with Alexis Palisson scoring their only try, while Mathieu Belie and Julien Caminati kicked the rest of their points.
Frederic Michalak did the kicking for Toulouse, scoring all the points bar Caucau's try, including a late penalty that effectively gave them the win, pushing Brive back into the relegation zone.
It feels like every time something is posted about him, the Fijian's weight, form, and fitness leading up to the World Cup is brought up. It's difficult to avoid though, as he is without a doubt one of the most exciting backs to play the game in the last ten years.
It looks as though he still has the magic touch too, as he somehow managed to get through a few defenders, holding the ball up in the air with one hand (in wet conditions) to score an important try for the French league leaders.
A short interview is included in the video too, with the man himself discussing the try.
Without a doubt, for neutrals, the moment of England's Calcutta Cup victory over Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday was this inspired, determined try saving chase and tackle by 33 year old Chris Paterson on flyer Ben Foden.
In recent times we've been spoilt when it comes to great try saving tackles, with two of note already taking place in this year's Six Nations Championship. Last month we saw Jonny Wilkinson pull off what was an incredible hit on Italy's Andrea Masi late in their game.
On that same weekend, Sean Lamont of Scotland stuck his hand up for his side as he produced a man of the match effort against Wales, with his stand out moment being his inspired chase back and tackle on huge Welsh centre, Jamie Roberts.
This time around it was another Scotsman, but one that is more known for his kicking ability than his defensive prowess. He's now 33 years old and while most are bordering retirement at that age, Chris Paterson managed to show that he's still as committed as ever, and still has some serious pace as he somehow chased down England's speedy fullback, Ben Foden.
It looked to be a try for all money, and just when you thought the game would be over as a contest, Paterson produced this effort, the likes of which will be talked about in Scottish rugby folklore for years to come. Scottish fans cheered, England fans looked on in shock, and neutrals jumped up and down at having seen one of the great moments in Six Nations history unfold.
Maybe that's a bit dramatic, but the tackle was superb, and as with the previous two mentioned earlier, it had this rugby fan up on his feet, punching the air in delight, grinning ear to ear.
You can re-watch the other two tackles via the related posts links below this video.
Gloucester cruised into the final of the LV Cup with a convincing 45-17 win over Newport-Gwent Dragons at Kingsholm on Sunday. One of the more memorable moments of the game was this comical dummy by centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu.
Charlie Sharples scored four second half tries as Gloucester set up a meeting with Newcastle Falcons, who beat Harlequins 22-21. They will face each other in the final next weekend, in Northampton.
Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu scored a try in the first half, to add to those by Sharples, Andy Hazell, and Nicky Robinson. It was the amusing piece of skill by the Samoan centre though that had my inbox and requests page working overtime.
The outrageous, one-handed dummy looked completely unnecessary, and maybe it was, but it did open up a gap that actually led to a penalty and further points for the cherry and whites.
The game was also in the bag by then, so you can’t blame him for not being too concerned about the possibility of the ball slipping out of his hand, and into row 5 of the Shed.
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There were two outstanding try savers of note this weekend around the world of rugby. One of them took place in the England vs Scotland game, and the other was this beauty by up and coming Crusaders centre, Robbie Fruean.
The Crusaders beat the Brumbies 52-10 in a Super Rugby rout at Nelson's Trafalgar Park on Friday night, and while Sean Maitland scored four tries for the Christchurch side, it was this moment that stood out in the memory for not only the fans, but coach Todd Blackadder too.
"For me, that was the highlight of the match, just to see the determination that he showed – that was all about attitude," said Blackadder. "If the Brumbies had scored a try then, it would have been meaningless because the result was safe, yet he still got back there to make it."
Blessed with midfield talent to pick from, the combination of Sonny Bill Williams and Robbie Fruean is one that should strike fear into even the staunchest of oppositions. Their size, offloading ability, and awareness allow the outside backs to run riot, as Maitland testified to.
"You can see the problems they are causing opposition defences," Maitland said. "It creates huge opportunities for blokes like me. I need to be there when they make line breaks, on their shoulder sniffing out opportunities."
As for Fruean, Blackadder says that he is being managed better this season, which has led to three 80 minute performances as a result. He rates the young man extremely highly.
"He is showing plenty of hunger and aerobically he is probably one of the most explosive and physical players in New Zealand. I also think he is really enjoying his partnership with Sonny and you can see that."
We should take bets on how long it will be before he earns an All Black cap. My money is on it happening before Rugby World Cup kickoff. The guy has it all, and has actually been overshadowed somewhat by the arrival of Sonny Bill Williams. They're working well together though, making the Crusaders even more powerful than we've known them in the past.
The other great trysaver from this weekend, Chris Paterson's on Ben Foden, will be posted soon.
England are one win away from their first Six Nations Grand Slam in eight years, following an attritional 22-16 victory over Scotland at Twickenham this weekend.
It was a tough match, with an unconvincing display from the home side who were given a torrid time at the breakdown by a fiery Scottish side. Indeed Scotland were in contention throughout the match, and the result could have easily gone the other way until a late try from replacement Tom Croft.
A superb individual effort from Max Evans, however, made sure that there was a nervous finish for Red Rose fans. The first half was a battle of the boots between Chris Paterson and Toby Flood and although the Scots threatened England's line twice, they were denied on both occasions. Only a last minute drop goal from Ruaridh Jackson saw a turgid half finish 9-9.
In the second half, the momentum began to swing back in favour of the home side when reinforcements in the shape of Wilkinson, Shaw, Croft and Thompson, brought their 232 caps to the fore.
These changes, and the losses of Kelly Brown to injury and John Barclay to the sin-bin for Scotland, signalled a change in fortunes, and despite a try-saving tackle from Paterson on Foden, Croft barged over for the inevitable England score.
England manager Martin Johnson admitted it was not the best performance from his side, and that they will have to improve significantly if they are to defeat the Irish at Lansdowne Road:
"We won ugly" he said. "We highlighted their work at the breakdown all week and we knew exactly what to expect but we failed to execute. In a nutshell, there were far too many errors, far too many turnovers and we got out of jail a little."
Elsewhere, Any Robinson was disappointed. "I take my hat off to the lads. They laid their bodies on the line. I thought it was a very good Test match. I just said to the players I was delighted with the way they went out and tried to play today, both with ball in hand and defensively." said the Scotland coach.
Below are the two tries, and a short montage piece. If you'd like to view full highlights, including the kicks at goal and a few of the chances, you can do so here(UK only).
Touch judge Peter Allan kept alive Wales’ slim hopes of lifting the Six Nations trophy by allowing Mike Phillips to charge in for a match winning score against Ireland this weekend at the Millennium Stadium.
It was a controversial moment that had the crowd searching for their rule books, as Welsh hooker Matthew Rees threw a quick lineout to Phillips from the touchline, allowing the scrum-half to power over for a converted score and the lead.
However, it was a different ball to the one which had been kicked out previously, and although referee Jonathan Kaplan requested confirmation about this - Allan said it was the same ball.
Unfortunately for Ireland the television replays conclusively illustrated that Allan was wrong. This mistake has further pushed the claim for televisions decisions to be referred to more often and in greater depth.
Yet Ireland cannot blame the officials for letting this game slip through their fingers, especially considering Paddy Wallace decided not to finish what seemed to be an easy run in with the dying phases of the game.
When Brian O’Driscoll crossed for his 24th tournament try two minutes into the game, Wales looked to be in for a rough ride. Yet Ireland did not look like scoring after this, and repeated offences allowed for Welsh fly-half James Hook to kick his side back into the game.
The win gives Wales, who are now level on points with England, small hope of winning the Six Nations; and with Ireland basically out of contention, it will be the try that should never have been awarded that will leave the Emerald Isle seething.
Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll has slammed the match officials. "I didn't see it myself but when half your team are saying it, you take their word for it," he said. "I tried to relate that to Jonathan Kaplan and the touch judge and they were having none of it and it's really frustrating for such an incident to have a huge bearing on the game.
"Games hang in the balance on decisions, everyone is human and wrong calls are made sometimes, but some are unforgivable."
Meanwhile a satisfied Warren Gatland believed the decision wasn’t a problem:
"I can understand Ireland being frustrated with the try that was allowed but it's a decision that's gone our way, we've had some against us in the past, so I'm not complaining about it."
Below is the try in question, as well as some discussion post match regarding the extended use of the Television Match Official. It's unfortunate that the laws don't allow it currently, as this incident shows that it's not possible for officials to always be completely on top of things.