A while back we posted a video that featured some of the quickest tries ever scored from the kick off. Here's another for the list, as Robbie Fruean scored after 20 seconds against Wellington in last week's ITM Cup meeting at the Cake Tin.
While Wellington actually came back and won the game 37-28, Fruean scored one of the quickest ever tries in New Zealand's national provincial championship, as he powered over with just twenty seconds on the clock.
Discarded by the All Blacks despite being such an incredible threat, the young giant has deceptive pace, as was seen here as he glided through the gap with the kind of ease you'd expect from a far more agile man. He brushed off a few tackles before ploughing over.
There seemed to be a few other interesting things that took place in this match, including some good tries and one in particular from a substitute hooker who had just been sick on the tryline, only to find the ball heading his way so he got up, caught it, and strolled over for the try.
Have a look at Fruean's effort though, then check out the other quickest tries list that was posted on here last year. If you can think of any others that haven't been mentioned, feel free to list them in the comments, or get in touch if you have a video or link.
South Africa suffered their second heavy Tri Nations defeat in as many weeks as they went down 40-7 to a far stronger and more clinical All Blacks side in Wellington on Saturday.
The All Blacks sported their new retro looking jersey, bringing back the famous white collar that's been missing for over ten years. It's a throwback to the 1987 Rugby World Cup success, the last time they won the tournament. With the 2011 version starting in a few months time, they're looking in good shape to replicate that success.
They were far more clinical than against Fiji, with Dan Carter commanding the ship. He missed a few kicks uncharacteristically, but looked back to his best, reinforcing the common perception that he's the best rugby player on the planet currently.
South Africa on the other hand picked up their game slightly, but still looked out of sorts with the new caps and inexperience showing. The 21 or so first line players sitting at home are sorely missed, and will no doubt make a big difference to the side when they rejoin.
Coach Peter De Villiers has said that the main focus is the World Cup, shifting the weight of expectation and the favourites tag onto the home side.
"Pretty much the Tri-Nations has gone for us. We'll move our focus to preparing for the World Cup. The All Blacks are more ready now for the World Cup and they deserve the tag of favourites to win it," he said.
They will head home and prepare for their meeting with the Wallabies in Durban in two weeks time, while the All Blacks will face them next weekend. The form of some of their players will give them great confidence, with wingers Zac Guildford and Cory Jane in particular scoring great tries.
"When I got through I backed myself that I was going to get into that corner and was happy to get there. I guess I went back to the old CJ of using the ball and I ran with it," he said.
"There's a lot of guys trying to go into that wing spot so it is important that every time I get an opportunity on my wing that we do nail it," he said.
Last weekend Southland captured the Ranfurly Shield as they wrestled it from the grasp of Canterbury in an epic game of ITM Cup rugby. They've already defended it, against Counties, but here is a quick look at last weekend's classic match.
The Southland Stags beat Canterbury 22-19 in a great game of rugby that had a bit of everything, and went right down to the wire, with flyhalf James Wilson slotting a late dropgoal to give the Stags the lead, and a well deserved win.
Canterbury had a 16-9 halftime lead thanks to two nice tries, but they could only score a solitary penalty in the second, as Southland defended their hearts out in front of a passionate crowd at Rugby Park in Christchurch.
They have since put the Shield on the line, and successfully defended it with a 22-14 win against Counties Manukau, taking their ITM Cup season wins to two and with that, retaining the log of wood. They now sit mid-table, with spirits down south.
Canterbury meanwhile have gone down again this week, losing 37-28 against Wellington.
The ITM Cup is ticking along nicely in New Zealand, as a shortened tournament has meant less break between games, and that we're already into week five. Here's a quick clip from the first round of action that was requested by a regular.
Canterbury got their campaign off to a good start with a 40-33 win over Auckland at Eden Park. To compound matters for the home side, center Benson Stanley had to exit the field early in the second half after taking this massive knock from hard running number eight Nasi Manu.
Stanley, who over the years has smashed his fair share of bigger players, took the full brunt of Manu's power as the big guy built up a head of steam and took on the Auckland defense. Stanley suffered a concussion, putting him out of rugby for three to four weeks.
He was knocked out recently too, during the Blues' match against the Reds in Super Rugby, and has had a history of concussion problems. Similarly to the situation with Berrick Barnes, he will be monitored closely to avoid any serious issues coming into play.
On a not so serious note, the clip below starts with a pretty funny case of the commentators curse, as Tony Johnson totally puts the mockers on goal kicker Tom Taylor. Taylor, son of 1987 World Cup winning Warwick Taylor, was good overall though, kicking 20 points in total.
Another good bit was that referee Chris Pollock realised the seriousness of the knock right away, and also that some of the players come to Stanley's aid to help out, particularly opposition scrumhalf Willie Heinz, who removed Stanley's gumguard asap.
If you've watched a lot of ITM Cup this season, or you still will, please keep an eye out for great moments of play or any other interesting things that take place. Get in touch, and hopefully we can then share them here on the site for others to enjoy too. Cheers
The Currie Cup is well under way in South Africa, with two rounds of play already having taken place. Here is a quick, funny clip from the match between the Leopards and Western Province that is user submitted and worth checking out.
Over the years the call has gone out to you, the rugby loving fans, to get in touch whenever you spot something you think should be shared with the rest of us around the world. It's your valuable input that drives the site, and can determine what does and doesn't get featured.
This was the case today when I received an email from someone who had watched this low key game in round two, a mismatch that Western Province (predominantly the Stormers in Super Rugby) played against the Leopards in Potchefstroom.
Province picked up their first win of the campaign, coming away with a convincing 47-9 scoreline. Early in the second half the frustration began to show for the home side, as is evident in the below clip when number eight Morne Hanekom tossed the ball in the direction of South African u20 flanker Siya Kolisi. Unfortunately for Kolisi, he wasn't looking at the time.
Whether it was deliberate or not, referee Pro Legoete - who infamously pinned Waratahs Pat O'Connor for a headbutt earlier in the season - took exception to it, and actually penalised Hanekom for deliberate foul play.
There's something really funny and bizarre about the whole situation, so take a look and see for yourself. Also, remember that if you watch a lot of games, make note of when certain things happen and get in touch so we can check them out, and hopefully share here on RD.
It's dragged on a bit, but today we've got the 14th and final parts of the thoroughly enjoyable History of Rugby documentary. It started with the games inception, and two and a half hours later, ends just before the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
Looking back, the first episode was posted on here exactly a year ago, so hopefully those of you that have been following along have enjoyed it. The opportunity to catch up on how the game was formed and what's happened over the years is not something to be scoffed at, so no matter where you come from or which team you support, we'd like to think you've found value in it.
Two weeks ago part 13 covered the Five Nations and went right up till the 1999 World Cup. That's where we pick up in part 14, but as England didn't have a great World Cup, the documentary then skips ahead.
In fact, the rest of the documentary focuses on England and how their star rose in the build up to the 2003 World Cup. You could say it's because it's English made, but it's also perhaps a fair reflection of the time, as they were a powerful unit that as we all know, went on to take the title.
Ironically that is where the documentary ends, just before that tournament. Perhaps in time we'll get to see an updated version that covers the next eight years, including this years World Cup in New Zealand. Time will tell though, and if or when it happens, you can be sure that you'll get a chance to see it right here on RD.
Enjoy the rest of this one (22 mins total), and if you did, please leave a comment to say so, and share it with your friends. Both parts are listed as a playlist below.Or you can catch up on all episodes via the History of Rugby archive page.
Possibly the most naturally gifted fullback in world rugby today, Wallaby Kurtley Beale showed how lethal he is with ball in hand again on the weekend. He also did a BOD. Oh, and a commentator swore on air right after that.
What does Kurtley Beale have in common with Brian O'Driscoll? Not a helluva lot probably. Those of you who watched Saturday's Tri Nations game, and watched the Magners League Grand Final two months ago, will probably have made the connection though.
O'Driscoll showed his typical never say die attitude in that match, as he was getting treatment for an injury when he popped up to make a tackle. Beale did the same thing against South Africa, which immediately brought back memories of that great BOD moment.
In this case, Beale almost set up a great try after rejoining the action, but it was called back as the Wallabies got close to the tryline. Gio Aplon's collision with Beale didn't look too bad at first, especially when you saw him hop up and streak down field, but the fullback was actually cut quite badly, so got strapped up after.
In fact of all the Wallaby players, Beale is in the worst shape following the match, having had four stitches and a twisted ankle. On top of that, he now has his arm in a sling too. The game-breaker will apparently be fine to play against the All Blacks in two weeks time though.
It was a classic moment in the match, and if that wasn't enough to entertain you, commentator Greg Martin then slipped up by swearing on air. Great stuff.
Last week we saw the Super Rugby Plays of the Season from the Rugby Club, but that's not where it ends as the international season, as well as domestic comps, are upon us. Here's a look at a big hit, as well as some tackles from Samoa.
If you haven't caught up on the Wallaby vs Samoa match yet, make sure you watch the highlights as it was great upset win for the visitors. They also smashed the home side all over the park, with big Alesana Tuilagi in particular making some fantastic big hits.
In this edition of the Rugby Club Plays of the Week - which aired before this past weekend's Wallaby win over South Africa - the big Samoans feature strongly, as does another big man, Waratah's front rower Benn Robinson.
A few years back Carlton Draught, who sponsor the Waratahs, came up with a classic TV ad in Australia that was a take-off of the famous Flash Dance scene. It was hilarious, and you can view it here. The HSBC Waratahs, while making their documentary The Code, had a go at it, and the result is pure genius.
Prop Robinson is the star, with Luke Burgess, Drew Mitchell, Daniel Halangahu, and Ben Mowen all watching on. It was posted on the Rugbydump Twitter and Facebook pages when it first came out, but if you missed that, it's included below after the Plays of the Week video.
Enough talk, busy week ahead. Enjoy the Plays, and the gyrating hips of Mr Robinson. (FlashTahs appears in the playlist after the Plays of the Week)
The Wallabies bounced back from the disappointment of a loss to Samoa by picking a far stronger outfit, resulting in a convincing 39-20 Tri Nations opener win over the touring Springboks in Sydney.
The Australians scored five tries as they out-muscled and outstripped the disorganised South African team, who at times showed major flaws on defence, and lack of power up front. David Pocock was influential, while the Reds halfback combination of Quade Cooper and Will Genia did what they've been doing all season, as they took their opportunities and played attacking rugby.
"I'm very lucky as a nine that the pack was going forward," said Genia afterwards, paying tribute to the hard work and great platform set by a physically dominant forward pack.
In Rugby World Cup year, this Tri Nations tournament - which ends just a few weeks before the showpiece event starts - is going to throw up a mixed bag of performances, selections, and the inevitable injury concerns.
While South Africa have gone into the tournament with many players unavailable, this match was seen as an opportunity to blood young talent, and allow others to find their form.
"The game was disappointing. We expected more and things could have got even uglier out there. If we had taken our chances it would have been easier but we didn’t. They certainly turned their week around in terms of the breakdown and physicality. They were hurt in that area last week but they turned up today," said captain John Smit.
With more than 20 players injured or being rested, this touring Springbok side next have the mammoth task of taking on the All Blacks in New Zealand, a week from today.
The Wallabies will play the All Blacks in two weeks time, so will enjoy the break.
"The good thing now is we get some time to re-gather, recover, tend to a bit of detail and really hone in on the opportunity we’ve got at Eden Park," said coach Robbie Deans
"It’s going to go up another notch. We’re looking forward to that."
Below are some highlights from the match, which will be replaced with a better quality video when possible. For now, you can catch up on what happened if you missed the game.
The All Blacks coasted to a 60-14 romp over Fiji in Dunedin on Friday night as they kicked off their Tri Nations preparations. Despite the scoreline, and managing to double their half time score, they were fairly rusty in the second half.
The Fijians weren't as bad as the scoreline suggests, but New Zealand were clinical and calculated, as ever, and managed to convert chances into points as they piled on the points at the last ever Test in Carisbrook's old stadium.
Leading 32-0 at half time, the All Blacks seemed to have already played their best rugby and at times looked stuttery in the second half. There were however plenty of positives to be taken from it, namely the convincing win over a decent Fijian side, the form of Sitiveni Sivivatu, and the performance of Dan Carter understudy, Colin Slade.
Slade picked up a personal tally of 19 points, scoring a try, four conversions, and two penalties.
"A lot of individuals played well but I think we've got a lot of work to do as a team, which is understandable," said All Blacks coach Graham Henry.
"There is plenty to work on but to score 60 points is pleasing. We just have to work on our teamwork and that's obvious when you haven't played together for nine months." Feel free to share your thoughts on the AB performance as a comment below.
Earlier in the week we had a look at the big hits from the Samoans during their win over Australia, so today here's a look at Fiji against Japan. Unfortunately for the Fijians, things went slightly differently, ending the match with just 12 players.
Many were surprised with Japan's first ever Pacific Nations Cup victory, and while they played well and have improved tremendously over the years, the Fijians self destructed.
Two red cards and three yellows later, Japan were able to score a late bonus point try, that gave them the tournament win. If they hadn't scored that try, Tonga would have claimed the title.
Fiji have since had two players suspended, Sisa Koyamaibole and Waisea Luveniyali. They will not be part of the match against the All Blacks in Dunedin on Friday night.
Number Eight Koyamaibole was given a two week ban for the tackle that earned him a red card, while flyhalf Luyeniyali, who was yellow carded in extra time, has been suspended for four weeks. Seru Rabeni, who was also red carded, escaped a ban.
While the commentary team felt the officials got most things completely wrong, Fiji coach Sam Domoni acknowledged that it was the lack of discipline from his team that lost them the match.
"It's unacceptable. We can't win test matches with 12 men. We can't blame the referees for the calls against us. We will go back to see the footage and review where we went wrong," he said.
Fiji play the All Blacks at Carisbrook, the last Test ever to be held at the famous old stadium, so they know the significance and sense of occasion it carries.
"Playing the All Blacks is like playing in the World Cup -- it only comes around every four years. The guys that are here are looking forward to the challenge tomorrow night. Playing against the All Blacks, you don’t need any more motivation, if that’s the case then we shouldn’t turn up.
"This is a once in a lifetime dream for all of us ... we’ll grab it with both hands and take the opportunity," he said.
Do you agree with the decisions of the officials, or think the commentators are correct?
While the Wallabies have taken a lot of flak for their surprise loss to the Samoa on the weekend, one of the reasons they looked so shell shocked out there was without a doubt the physical confrontation that the Samoans provided. Here's a closer look at some of the bigger collisions.
Pacific Island players and teams have always had the reputation of being big hitters. It's fair to say that sometimes that hard-hitting approach lands them in hot water, as we've seen with Fiji (we'll take a look at that tomorrow). Samoa's victory over Australia however was a brilliant example of channelled aggression, intimidation, and very well organised defence.
The Wallabies actually started the game well on that front, with center Pat McCabe making a massive tackle a few seconds into the match. That was pretty much where it ended for the hosts though, as after that it was all Samoa.
Alesana Tuilagi on the wing was a stand-out, as he not only scored a try, but peppered debutant Rod Davies all day long. If he wasn't running over him, he was smashing him, and he was loving every minute of it. It was quite a baptism of fire for the Reds star, who went from hero to zero within the space of a few weeks. That's what makes international sport so great though. It's a leveller.
Davies had the right attitude after the game, acknowledging that things can only get better for him. "Obviously that is not the way I pictured my debut in Tests. The only way is up from here," Davies said. "He's pretty big, he's pretty agile as well. Credit to him, he played a great game and got the points today," he added, referring to 111kg wing Tuilagi.
If you missed the match and only saw the highlights, this clip will hopefully give you some kind of indication as to how physical the approach of the Samoas was, not only in the tackle, but at the breakdown too. Yes, some of the hits are borderline, and even illegal in some cases, but the overall approach was to smash the Wallabies into submission, and they did just that.
On a side note, we'd like to offer our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Queensland University player Halley Appleby, who died from injuries sustained on the rugby field this past weekend. He was 21 years old, and loved by many. May he rest in peace.
You can read more about what happened (no foul play suspected), and see some of the tributes for him, by reading the story on the Courier Mail website here.
Last week the Pacific Nations Cup came to an exciting conclusion as Japan scored an injury time try against Fiji to secure their first ever title win. Here's a quick wrap-up of what happened in the last two games.
Japan needed to beat Fiji with a bonus point to make sure they had a chance of winning the tournament, and things weren't looking good at halftime as Fiji led the game. The home side had a lapse in discipline though and ended the match with 12 players on the field, allowing Japan to score a late try and pick up a 24-13 bonus point win.
Fiji had three yellow cards and two reds, and have since had two players suspended.
"It was Fiji's indiscipline that helped us in the win," said Japan coach John Kirwan. "However, I salute my players for the effort and they did what I asked them at the break. Now it is the World Cup and there is still a lot of work to be done."
In the other match, Tonga would have felt they were in the driving seat as they beat Samoa 29-19. Chiefs prop Sona Taumalolo scored a brilliant individual effort, which you can see here. They were probably the best side in the tournament as they had earlier beaten Fiji, had the best points differential, and the strongest defense.
The late Japan try meant that they went equal with Tonga on ten points, so the outcome of the tournament was determined by the top two's previous encounter, which Japan won 28-27.
Fiji will now need to lift themselves for their big meeting with the All Blacks this Friday evening.
Australian rugby was on a massive high following the Queensland Reds success in Super Rugby, and despite that coming to a crashing halt this weekend with the Wallabies loss to Samoa, there was plenty to enjoy throughout the season.
The Rugby Club is of course an Australian show, so there's always a slight Aussie bias, but that doesn't mean that there wasn't a whole lot to enjoy for Kiwi and South African fans, as throughout the season all sides contributed to a fascinating tournament.
The best tries, biggest hits, and craziest moments were nicely spread across the three nations, although when it comes to celebrations, there was one side who stole the show. Yep, the Reds.
When Digby Ioane did his break dancing routine and Quade Cooper followed up the next week with a backflip, it seemed as though things were going to get out of control. Thankfully, they didn't, although it was good fun at the time. Rene Ranger deserves a special mention too.
All in all, it was another enjoyable season with some great rugby on show and despite many injuries, it was a nice chance for many players to stake a claim for World Cup places.
Big thanks to Sean Maloney for the compilation, and here's looking forward to a brilliant Tri Nations over the next few weeks which will no doubt serve up the same, if not better, standard of attacking rugby, bruising tackling, and of course, a little bit of razzle dazzle. Enjoy.
The Wallabies suffered a shock upset at the hands of Samoa on Sunday in Sydney, as over confidence and a lack of depth were exposed with the Australians worst loss in almost forty years. Samoa led early, and won the game 32-23 in the end.
The hosts had gone into the game on a high from the Super Rugby success of the Reds, but with very few of those players in the starting lineup, others were given a chance to put the poor form of their Super Rugby campaigns behind them, and stick their hands up for future selection.
They failed to do that, in dramatic style, as the Samoans came out firing with massive tackles, composed defence, and an opportunism which saw them up by 17 points in the first half.
Next week a different Wallabies team will turn out against South Africa - themselves weakened, and criticised for it - in the Tri Nations opener. Robbie Deans has said that this game was a wake up call, but he had no option but to rest most of the Reds players, who joined the camp late.
For the Samoans, it was without a doubt their greatest ever victory as they sent a warning to the other sides in their Rugby World Cup group. While the majority of their players play abroad, the experience they've gained in places like New Zealand and the UK has combined well with their natural talent and physicality, making them a tricky prospect come the RWC group stages.
Former Wallaby Tim Horan said that he hopes the result stings the Wallabies.
"It would be easy to say Samoa's stunning upset victory was helped by the fact some of Australia's frontline players were not selected, but that would be letting the hosts off lightly," he said.
"They were embarrassed. They can't pass this result off. They were outplayed by a team that out-planned them, out-muscled them in defence and out-enthused them at the breakdown."
With the Rugby World Cup only a few months away, now is as good a time as any to take a closer look at the ball that will be used. Once again, Gilbert are the official suppliers, and have created a great looking ball.
You can expect two things to dominate the World Cup - defence, and kicking. As we've seen in past tournaments, if you master those two key elements, you're likely to go a long way.
With that in mind, Gilbert have put special emphasis on creating a ball that will provide goal and line kickers with improved accuracy. Out of hand, it will also have an impact as it has new rubber compounds that will have an influence on it's flight. It's been thoroughly tested, with former Test flyhalfs Paul Grayson and Braam van Straaten both having a chance to check it out.
The design is uniquely created, paying homage to the Maori people by incorporating stylistic elements taken directly from within their culture. The Hammerhead Shark, or Mongopare, is considered as the greatest shark because of it's tenacious nature, strength, and determination. The Fern shoot, or the Koru, represents the cycle of life, family, and creation.
Van Straaten, who during his career was outspoken about having a unified, standard match ball for all Test rugby, was impressed by the Gilbert Virtuo.
"There is no doubt that Gilbert is the leader when it comes to rugby balls, in my mind they have always been ahead of the pack. The ball travels perfectly through the air - it's aerodynamic and with the adaptation Gilbert has made to both the strength and the bladder makes it a pleasure to kick," he said.
The following video is a feature from Total Rugby about the ball, how it's made, and the design process. In your opinion, is there any other ball that comes close to Gilbert?
Note, clips from the Australia vs Samoa game will be featured on the site soon. Feel free to leave a request should there be anything in particular you're after. Thanks.
Flanker Beau Robinson was one of the many success stories of the Queensland Reds' incredible Super Rugby season. The hard-hitting forward has now been called up to the Wallabies, and this hit perhaps exemplifies why.
While skimming through this season's Reds matches to compile a best tries compilation, I came across this beauty from Beau, a tackle that he made on Cheetahs loose forward Kabamba Floors in Round 6 of this year's Super Rugby competition.
Robinson has come a long way to get where he's at now, and his story is quite unique, as not a lot of players travel the same path that he has, and have to experience the same hardships.
Last year, in 2010, Robinson was playing third division rugby in Italy. He'd previously played for the Waratahs, but playing second fiddle to Phil Waugh hadn't worked out. It was a conversation with his late brother Dan that inspired him to give things another crack. "My brother made it pretty clear: 'You're a ('effing') idiot if you don't go back and have a crack'."
When Dan died tragically when crossing train lines after a London night out, Robinson was jerked into gear and realised that he needed to prove to both his brother, and himself, that he could make it at the highest level.
"That's been my driving motivation. If it wasn't this year, it would have been never."
After working as a garbage man and studying in Sydney, he exchanged a few emails with Reds coach Ewen Mackenzie, who said that he couldn't offer him a contract, but if he trained with the squad and performed, he might have a chance. That was enough. Robinson packed everything into his car, and made the 13 hour drive to Queensland.
"The trusty Holden Commodore mate," Robinson said. "I needed a car so, yeah, we just drove up. I didn’t take a bed or anything, just the footy gear really." He apparently worked in a bar for a while, to make ends meet, but has since come on in such a way that the Reds have given him a two year contract, and just this week, he was selected for the Wallabies squad.
Life has turned around for Robinson, and despite having taken a while to find his place, he's now happy to be with the Reds, playing fearless rugby, and now calling Brisbane home.
"I've still got the NSW plates. Never got around to changing em. Probably should eh?"
It's been a few months since posting an episode of the History of Rugby documentary, so while there's a bit of a quiet period after Super Rugby and before everything else, it's as good a time as any to continue with it.
As you know by now, Super Rugby came to an end this past weekend as the Reds beat the Crusaders in a brilliant final in Brisbane. There's no let up for some of the guys that took part though, as this weekend the Wallabies will be facing the might of Samoa, fresh from their participation in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup.
Elsewhere, the fiercely competitive Currie Cup kicks off in South Africa, while in New Zealand their entertaining domestic competition, the ITM Cup, gets under way tomorrow.
So while many of you up north might feel like the rugby season is over, it's anything but, and we'll continue to cover the best bits here on RD.
For now though, the History of Rugby documentary continues from where it left off, as we get to see the Springboks emerge from the wilderness in in the early nineties. We then get a run-down of England successes through that time period, leading up to the 1994 Five Nations, which Wales won. The following year France scored a brilliant try against England in the Championship, but weren't successful overall.
The 1995 Rugby World Cup was a famous win for the Springboks in their first ever tournament, with Nelson Mandela, Kitch Christie, and Francois Pienaar doing incredible things for the country, both on and off the field.
Professionalism followed the tournament, and by the 1999 Rugby World Cup, rugby was a slightly different game. Jonah Lomu, who was years ahead of the sport, made massive impacts in both 95 and 99, particularly against England.
From this point in the documentary, things do become quite England-centric, so if you're not a fan, you'll need to take it with a pinch of salt as obviously it's England made, so they become the predominant focus. It's still very interesting though, and a good look back at what happened all those years back. Enjoy.
Japan upset Tonga on the weekend as they earned a hard fought 28-27 win in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup in Suva, Fiji. The win sees them climb two places in the IRB Rankings, up to thirteenth.
John Kirwan’s team will meet Tonga in Pool A of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, so a win over them in Suva will have given them a nice boost in confidence. They’ve also thrown the PNC wide open, as did Fiji with their win over Samoa, which means that all four sides go into Wednesday’s match with a win apiece.
The match itself was fairly scrappy at times, with somewhat of a forward battle taking place and a few of the tries being ground out, rather than coming from fluid play. Japan worked hard on defence though, and did well to hold out a tired looking Tongan side in the last ten minutes.
"Tonga is the most improved side in the tournament so far and got a good win against Fiji last week," said Japan coach John Kirwan.
"We knew that this was a big game for us. I am really happy with the courage our boys showed. The Japanese style of rugby is running around. I am very pleased what the players showed."
Despite the loss, Tonga still lead the tournament on six points going into the final round of fixtures. The other three teams are on five, so all three teams have a chance of winning it. Tonga face Samoa, while Fiji play Japan.
The Wallabies are hoping that the success of the Queensland Reds will help boost their spirits as they head into a Tri Nations, and then the Rugby World Cup. The Wallaby squad has been announced, and includes 15 of the Super Rugby final winning Reds.
The state of Queensland is still on a high after their impressive 18-13 win over the Crusaders in Brisbane yesterday. The achievement has been two years in the making, and has even had opposition lock Brad Thorn admitting that he’s happy for them.
"I've grown up here so I know there have been some hard years," said Thorn, who played for the Brisbane Broncos 200 times in the NRL.
"My brother played for the GPS club in 1996, that's when rugby was really strong here. Queensland was a proud union, one of the strongest in world rugby. It's been a tough sort of decade ... the crowds were so low and teams around Australia came along and took the (player) depth away. To see Queensland rugby so strong, there's a big part of me that appreciates that. I think it's a good thing."
The Reds had been sitting at the bottom three of the table for many years before coach Ewen McKenzie took over in 2009. In 2007, they took a 92-3 hiding from the Bulls, the competitions worst ever loss. In the past two years however, they’ve turned things around drastically, narrowly missing out on the playoffs last year, but having won 23-31 matches.
"This team, all year people have doubted us and said we couldn't do it. Well, with this game I think we showed them we can. And we did it," said captain James Horwill.
Yesterday a clip of the Genia try was shown, so here’s a highlights package that covers everything else. It was a brilliant game with plenty of incident, so some bits weren’t included to keep the video length down. Enjoy, and congrats to the Reds on a superb season.
Wallabies squad for Samoa test and Tri Nations
Forwards: Ben Alexander (Brumbies), Ben Daley (Reds), Dave Dennis (Waratahs), Rocky Elsom (capt) (Brumbies), Saia Faingaa (Reds), James Hanson (Reds), Scott Higginbotham (Reds), Matt Hodgson (Western Force), James Horwill (Reds), Sekope Kepu (Waratahs), Salesi Ma'afu (Brumbies), Ben McCalman (Western Force), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), Dean Mumm (Waratahs), Wycliff Palu (Waratahs), David Pocock (Western Force), Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs), Beau Robinson (Reds), Benn Robinson (Waratahs), Radike Samo (Reds), Nathan Sharpe (Western Force), Rob Simmons (Reds), James Slipper (Reds), Sitaleki Timani (Waratahs), Dan Vickerman (Waratahs)
Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs), Kurtley Beale (Melbourne Rebels), Luke Burgess (Waratahs), Quade Cooper (Reds), Rod Davies (Reds), Anthony Faingaa (Reds), Will Genia (Reds), Mark Gerrard (Melbourne Rebels), Matt Giteau (Toulon), Digby Ioane (Reds), Pat McCabe (Brumbies), Luke Morahan (Reds), James O'Connor (Melbourne Rebels), Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels), Lachie Turner (Waratahs)
The Queensland Reds won a Super Rugby title for the first time in the professional era as they beat the Crusaders 18-13 in a fascinating match at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium earlier today.
The Reds were underdogs in many ways but showed their worth as a ferocious forward and defensive effort stopped the might of the Crusaders, who were hoping to take their eighth ever title, and first since 2008.
With scores tied at 13-13, Will Genia broke the match open late in the second half as he split the Crusaders defense and sprinted down field to score a memorable try. The inside run by Quade Cooper kept the tacklers guessing, so Genia just kept going.
"He didn't need me in the end and I was just there to congratulate him so what a fitting end to be right there by him when he scored the match-winning try,'' Cooper said.
"It pretty much sealed the game from there.''
Wing Digby Ioane had earlier scored a nice try of his own, and promised his fans a big celebration should they win the match. He did so with a full breakdance routine after the match, and brought out the famous turtle for good measure. A short clip of that can be seen in the interview that's included below.
Please bear in mind that both clips below are quick posts that aren't of the greatest quality. Better highlights and clips from the match will be posted over the next day or so.
Super Rugby 2011 is about to come to an end as the Reds host the Crusaders for what should be a fantastic final in Brisbane in a few hours time. Before that, let's catch up on some great plays from recent times.
This week's edition of Rugby Club Plays of the Week features some great moments from rounds gone by, as the Fox Sports team take in some letters from viewers from all over the world, and respond with some of the requested clips.
On the menu are some bone-crunching tackles from earlier on in the comp, as well as a stand-out try from the Cheetahs during their meeting with the Lions, and a first ever try for the newly formed Melbourne Rebels.
There's also time for a Sonny Bill Williams offload, as we get another look at the great try he created for midfield partner Robbie Fruean against the Stormers last weekend.
Enjoy the final, and we can all look forward to next week's Plays of the Season.
Time: 02:07 Note: Thanks as always to Fox Sports and Sean Maloney
The Crusaders underwent a serious amount of travel of late, and now find themselves in Brisbane, as they've been preparing for the biggest match of the season, the final against the Reds tomorrow. This great video takes us behind the scenes leading up to it.
The region of Canterbury has been through a lot in recent times, and the scars live on as their beloved Crusaders side have had to play away from their home ground for most of the season. On top of that, the natural disaster has robbed the city of Christchurch of their Rugby World Cup matches later this year.
Through it all, the Crusaders have continued to play their stock-standard high quality brand of attacking, intelligent rugby. The fact that they've done it away, and home-away-from-home repeatedly is a real reflection on the feeling in the squad.
They do it year after year though, somehow, and this season has been no different. In fact earlier today we shared a clip on the RD Facebook Page that showed how they've won the tournament 7 out of 15 times. That's an unbelievable achievement, and you can be sure that tomorrow they'll be confident of taking their eighth.
Of course they have the Reds to contend with, and a fired up Suncorp Stadium, but as you can see in the video below, their preparation and composure seems to be as good as ever. The team spirit, probably strengthened by what the community have gone through, is fantastic too.
This clip, made by ONSportNZ, is a great insight into what they got up to this past week, and shows that even some of the old timers aren't afraid to try their hand at planking. Enjoy, and check out ONSportNZ's youtube channel for more great clips.
As this season we've had a change of format, title, and branding with SANZAR's Super Rugby tournament, that means there is also a new trophy on offer for the winner of the final between the Reds and Crusaders in Brisbane this weekend.
The new trophy, as can be seen in the below video feature, was designed by a team in Sydney that took a whole host of elements into account when creating it. It is 65cm tall and features the three colours of all three competing nations, as was explained by SANZAR CEO Greg Peters.
"The shape of the trophy is cantered around three curved legs, each representing the conferences involved in the Super Rugby competition. Bold colours on each leg correspond to the conferences with gold for Australia, black for New Zealand, and green for the South African Conference," he said.
"Already, the respective Conference winners - the Reds (Australia), Stormers (SA) and Crusaders (NZ) have been presented with similar, scaled-down trophies for their achievements during the regular season. The champions trophy is the 'big one', and will become the ultimate symbol of Super Rugby supremacy in the years to come," he added.
While Peters went on to say that the legs of the trophy reaching up are a reference to players going for the ball in the lineout, Greg Martin of the Rugby Club felt it was more suited to be worn on the head, which may well happen this coming Saturday.
We'll find out soon if it will be James Horwill or Richie McCaw who gets to lift it for the first time.
Time: 03:13 Note: Thanks to the Rugby Club on Fox Sports for the feature.
Tonga got their Pacific Nations Cup campaign off to a strong start on Saturday with a 45-21 upset win over hosts Fiji in Lautoka It was their first win in the competition in three years.
Yesterday you saw highlights of Samoa's win over Japan, but many would have expected this particular game, the tournament opener, to be a fair tighter affair. Instead it was Tonga that impressed with their strong defensive effort, and blistering speed out wide.
They scored five tries to two as the dangerous Fijian backs were prevented from cutting loose, while Tongan flyhalf Kurt Morath took his personal tally to 20 points with some good goal kicking, slotting four conversions and four penalties.
Fiji scored a brilliant try of their own though, a length of the field effort that was finished off by lock Sekonaia Kalou, who somehow managed to get up there in support. Tongan Viliame Iongi punished the Fijians shortly after though as they camped on the Tongan tryline, but coughed up turnover ball. The speedster gassed all before him, sealing the win for the visitors.
Tongan coach Isitolo Maka remained grounded however, even if it was their first win in the tournament since 2008.
"I don't think the score reflected the tightness of the game. There were a couple of lucky tries which made the score look bigger than it should have. We won't kid ourselves, we have plenty of work to do," he said.
The next round of games take place this coming weekend, with Tonga facing Japan, while Fiji host Samoa. Both games will take place in Suva, Fiji.
The Pacific Nations Cup got under way this past weekend as in Tokyo defending champions Samoa beat Japan 34-15, at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground. Earlier in the day Tonga upset Fiji.
Samoa are building up nicely to the Rugby World Cup, with a few starts players in their ranks now that they're able to all come together and prepare for the big event. Wing Alesana Tuilagi of Leicester Tigers is one of those, and he scored twice as Samoa took advantage of some fairly weak defensive efforts.
It looked as though Samoa were going to run away with it when their score beat the time on the clock, at 17-0 after 15 minutes, but Japan pulled together and avoided a complete hiding. Coach John Kirwan has plenty of work to do ahead of the World Cup though if they still hope to achieve his goal of winning at least one match in the tournament.
At 24-15 in the second half, things looked decent for the 9700 home ground, but Samoa pulled away somewhat when George Pisi's try extended the lead and sealed the win.
The quality of the below highlights isn't fantastic, but there were some nice tries and it was a good result for the Samoans, who have some talented players in their side that are worth keeping an eye on. We'll have highlights of the other opening round game for you soon.
The Crusaders proved too strong for the Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday as they won the second Super Rugby semifinal 29-10, setting up a final meeting with the Reds in Brisbane next weekend.
On paper the Crusaders always looked the stronger side, but the long haul over from New Zealand and playing a knockout match last weekend perhaps lulled the Stormers into a false sense of security.
The visitors, now looking to achieve their eighth title, dominated the game and rarely looked threatened, so much so that the last quarter of the match was fairly dour. The Stormers, with their fantastic defensive record, conceded tries through and intercept, and a piece of Sonny Bill Williams magic. He had a fairly quiet game otherwise.
Dan Carter scored 19 points in total with his five penalties and two conversions. Richie McCaw said that he was proud of the team's performance in the face of adversity.
"I am really proud of what the team achieved," McCaw said. "We decided after the earthquakes to stand up for the people at home and that is what we did here. All the travel we have had to do was not fun, but you recover and gear up for a supreme effort come each match day. It was a great team effort with special praise for our tight five."
For the Stormers, the loss of Schalk Burger didn't help. He has since been rules out of the away leg of the upcoming Tri Nations after he had surgery on his dislocated thumb. He will be out for six to eight weeks.
The Crusaders now travel again, this time to Brisbane, to face the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium. That match takes place on Saturday.
The Queensland Reds qualified for the first ever Super Rugby final as they beat the Auckland Blues 30-13 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane yesterday. They will host the Crusaders next weekend, after they beat the Stormers in the other semifinal in Cape Town.
'Rocket' Rod Davies scored a hat-trick of tries, the first ever by a Reds player, as the Queensland side showed how much they've come on as a unit in the last two years. Marshalled by Will Genia and Quade Cooper, the Reds too their chances when it mattered.
An intercept try and a few moments of brilliance from Cooper were ultimately the difference between the two sides, but that's not to take away from an excellent forward pack who provided the exciting backs with the ball they needed. In the end they'd scored four tries, to the one of the Blues.
"I think we can be excited. We’ve won a Semi-Final and we’ve put ourselves in the position to host the Super Rugby Final," said Reds captain James Horwill.
They will host the Crusaders in a final next weekend that ironically, sees two sides from cities that have both suffered horrific natural disasters in recent times.
"It’s all good for Queensland and these events are great for the fans to be able to turn up," said coach Ewen McKenzie. "We’re just pleased to be making a contribution and not just sitting and watching on TV."
Today we not only have two Super Rugby semi finals, the first having already kicked off, but two excellent instalments of the Rugby Club's Plays of the Week. They're mashed together as one clip for you to enjoy easily.
The first bit is from round 18 of action, with a few hits and tries you probably would have seen here on RD already. There's one by Stirling Mortlock though that wasn't shared on here. The less said about it, the better.
Last weekend were the qualifying matches, with the Crusaders and Blues progressing to the semis. It was a sad farewell for Phil Waugh of the Waratahs, as he played his final match for them.
There's a nice under 20 try thrown in for good measure, as well as a Shute Shield try, and the a bit of a cliche-watch with the word of the day, coming to you from Stephen Brett, obviously.
Enjoy the vids, and if you're able to, make sure you watch the semis. If not, we'll have the best bits on the site for you over the next few days, and coming week. Have a good one.
Referee Bryce Lawrence came in for a lot of criticism after his handling of the Crusaders vs Sharks Super Rugby game last weekend. Here's a quick clip of one of his more puzzling moments.
The Crusaders blew the Sharks off the park in the second half, so it wasn't a case of Lawrence necessarily influencing the outcome of the match. Having said that, there were a few decisions that had some of the players, fans at home, and even the New Zealand commentators scratching their heads.
This was one such decision, as the Sharks packed down for a scrum, and were blown up with a full arm penalty before even making contact, for dangerous play. The Sharks did well not to kick up a fuss at the time, but Lawrence has since taken a lot of flack for the amusing call.
Former Test referee Andre Watson said there was no doubt that the decision was absurd, but has tried to explain what Lawrence was more than likely thinking.
"We have been trying for the past two seasons to penalise teams in the scrums that deliberately shift the point of contact. It's usually the defensive scrum that moves slightly to the side and tries to prevent the attacking scrum from getting a right shoulder. That is what Lawrence wanted to do," he said.
"I don't know why he used those words, but it was incorrect and did not make sense. I'm also not sure whether the Sharks would have shifted on their own throw-in."
Referee boss Lyndon Bray has said that Lawrence had consistently produced the best refereeing performances over the past six months, so he has been appointed for the final. This weekend, Jonathan Kaplan will ref the first semi final, between the Reds and the Blues, while Craig Joubert will manage the game in Cape Town, between the Stormers and the Crusaders.
This clip, while not technically a funny, is rather bizarre and some of you had asked to see it again, so here it is. There's also a bit of a discussion included, from Kiwi rugby show Reunion.