Once again, the good old ball in the jersey trick has failed to work. We've seen it tried a few times, and shown them all here on the site, but this time, it even resulted in the player at hand being penalised.
Dragons prop Hugh Gustafson somehow got himself tangled when making a run against the Scarlets last weekend. As he was tackled, his jersey got pulled over his head, trapping the ball in it.
He went to ground, didn't release, and got penalised for it by the ref. Pretty harsh considering the ball was actually stuck inside his jersey, but rules are rules, and despite protestation by Gustafson, possession was conceded.
To make things even more comical, he struggled to then get the ball out his jersey when trying to give it to the Scarlets player, and had to walk back to his team mates with his belly hanging out.
Check out our related links for similar incidents, and have a great weekend watching the Currie Cup final, the Air NZ Cup semis, the final Test of the Bledisloe Cup, as well as Guinness Premiership, Top 14, and Magners League action.
Remember to take notes of incidents and send them in to us, so nothing is missed. Cheers.
A Top 14 match in Paris is like a Test match anywhere else in the world. It's treated as a huge spectacle and when watching the start of this clip, you'd think you were watching a World Cup Final, not just another league game between Stade Francais and Perpignan.
It's what makes the Top 14 so great to watch, as while other tournaments around the world struggle with attendances, the French continue to get out there and support their sides by the masses. This match had 77 000 people in attendance at the Stade De France.
Perpignan upset hosts Stade Francais 20-14, with great tries by Maxime Mermoz and Jerome Porical, who got a personal tally of 15 points. This was despite the home side scoring first through a nice move and try to Hugo Southwell.
In the second half the lead changed hands a few time, as Julien Dupuy kept his side in the match with two penalties, but Porical came back and landed the killer blow with his second try after great lead up play by Henry Tuilagi and Florian Cazenave.
Stade did however pick up a bonus point, and had a great chance at snatching the win near the end, but they unfortunately dropped the ball after a promising attack contributed to a tense finish.
The title of this was going to be 'Jonathan Thomas goes a little mental', but I didn't think it would be appropriate. It describes things nicely though, as the Ospreys forward totally lost the plot against Cardiff Blues, throwing multiple punches, resulting in suspension.
He’s been banned for two weeks, effectively ruling himself out of the autumn Test opener between his country, Wales, and New Zealand. He was named in Warren Gatland’s Welsh squad for the autumn internationals last weekend.
Thomas was cited for striking an opponent during their 20-12 loss to Cardiff in the Magners League, resulting in a disciplinary panel ruling that he should be suspended for a fortnight, which leads to coach Gatland having to call for a replacement.
A Welsh Rugby Union disciplinary panel statement read: ‘The panel upheld the citing and deemed the offence to be on the low end of the scale and suspended the player for two weeks from the time of the hearing.’
Former Wales assistant coach Allan Lewis says that Thomas was lucky to have not been banned for longer after his unacceptable behaviour.
"I think it's a blow for Wales, I think it's a blow for the squad that he's not there because he's a very experienced player," Lewis told BBC Sport Wales.
"But I was absolutely appalled with his action, I think he's been very fortunate that he's only missing the New Zealand game.
"In fact, he could very well have been banned for a whole month."
Thomas' victim, Blues lock Deiniol Jones, said: "That's the decision that was made. He lashed out, I think. I was not totally innocent myself.
"It's the way it is and he's been given a two-week ban and I'm sure the people who made the decision thought that's appropriate and so be it, that's fine."
Thomas himself said earlier: "I am really disappointed with the suspension.
"But I admit that my actions were wrong and that a punishment had to be served as a result,” the 47 times capped Welsh international said.
This is a very short, overly dramatic clip but I felt the music captured the mood of the demons inside Thomas' head when he lost it.
The trailer for the much talked about upcoming film Invictus was released earlier this week. The film is based around the events of the 1995 World Cup in South Africa, and features Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar.
It’s directed by Clint Eastwood and looks likely to be an Oscar contender if all the hype is to be believed. Rugby is not huge in the US, but the political, historical, and human factor (which incidentally is what the film was going to be named) will no doubt capture the audience’s attention.
The title of the movie, Invictus, means ‘unconquered’ and comes from the poem by William Ernest Henley which talks about being the ‘master of my fate’ and ‘the captain of my soul’.
Initial thoughts? Sceptical. The trailer seems to depict newly elected president Mandela as the mastermind behind the World Cup win in 1995, with the great man seemingly involved in every step of the planning, preparation, and training within the Springbok camp.
That’s really not how it happened at all, but it will no doubt make for a good story that Hollywood will lap up and at the end of the day, it’s great exposure for rugby.
Mandela did however have a huge role to play in terms of uniting a divided country, as well as motivating the Springbok players in a way that none of them ever imagined. By embracing the sport that was traditionally a white man's game in South Africa, he brought the country together in a way that had never been done before.
Director Eastwood seems to have done an amazing job with the authenticity of the spectacle. It’s hard to tell at this stage if the epic will be primarily a rugby movie or more politically based (dare I say probably the latter), but from what you can see in the trailer, they haven’t missed a detail in terms of genuine kit, advertising boards, and player likenesses.
It’s also filmed entirely in and around the cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Accents will always be a hot topic when films of this nature are made, but so far it sounds as if Freeman and Damon have done a pretty decent job, despite Freeman sounding truly American at both the start and end of the trailer.
The one concern is that Damon is 5ft10, while Francois Pienaar is 6ft3. Hopefully when watching the film it's not too distracting for die-hard rugby fans. Afterall, it's not aimed at us only anyway.
It will be released in December, and all in all it’s going to be of great significance for the sport of rugby in general, and will hopefully be an accurate representation of what happened during that ground breaking month of June 1995.
Gloucester’s poor run of form continued this weekend as they got convincingly beaten 35-6 by Wasps in front of their home crowd at Kingsholm.
Scrumhalf Joe Simpson and flyhalf Dave Walder combined to give centre Dominic Waldouck an easy try in the first half as he glided through the hapless Gloucester defenders.
Wasps managed to hold off any attempt at a comeback by the home side as they picked up their bonus point after scoring three tries in the second half. Mark Van Gisbergen scored twice, with captain Serge Betsen also scoring under the posts.
Gloucester’s injured World Cup winner, Mike Tindall, says it was an embarrassing result.
“I felt embarrassed. We made too many individual errors and too many mistakes,” he said.
"I feel sorry for Brushy (Gloucester coach Bryan Redpath) because we made too many individual errors and mistakes.
"Whenever we did something good, we then went and did something stupid to undo it. After such a good start to the season with the win over Bath, things just aren't going right.
"It's not a lack of work or commitment, but we need to own up when we aren't doing things well. This hasn't just been going on for one or two weeks, it is three or four now."
The fourth and final Bledisloe Cup Test of 2009 between Australia and New Zealand takes place in Tokyo this weekend. To get you in the mood, we've got a classic match from 2003 between the two sides at Telstra Stadium in Sydney.
It was the first match in the Bledisloe Series of that year, and with Australia having held the trophy for so long, the All Blacks were out to set things straight in World Cup year. A capacity crowd of 80 000 watched as the home side were torn apart by the merciless Kiwis.
They had hammered the Springboks the week before in Pretoria, scoring seven tries as they hit form at just the right time. At home though, the Wallabies would have been favourites and with the sea of gold in the crowd behind them, they started well with a try from fullback Matt Burke.
The pace was frenetic and in the 21st minute New Zealand gained the lead following a brilliant finish from gas-man Joe Rokocoko as he stood up and rounded league convert Wendell Sailor.
Their other flyer, winger Doug Howlett, got in on the action ten minutes later and then practically from the restart, Rokocoko scored another brilliant try as he absolutely blitzed the Wallaby defence.
It stood at 23-11 at halftime with the home side looking for penetration but lacking to deliver. It was Tana Umaga who did for the visitors though just six minutes in, as they returned a poor Stephen Larkham clearance with interest.
Young Daniel Carter came on for Carlos Spencer when he hobbled off, and it was he who glided in for yet another try for the All Blacks. Sailor scored not long afterwards with a brilliant run and step before bashing over the top of Mils Muliaina.
With ten minutes left in the one sided contest, Smokin Joe picked up his hat trick try, before another league convert, Mat Rogers scored a consolation effort. Aaron Mauger then completed the 'mother of all hidings' as he scored under the posts to bring up the half century.
It was the Wallabies' worst ever loss at home in the professional era, and a record win by the All Blacks over them. It ended 50-21, giving the New Zealander's one hand on the trophy, which they later went on to reclaim in convincing fashion. They've held onto it ever since.
He's back. Yes, as predicted, Jonny Wilkinson will be making his return for England when they host the Wallabies in a couple of weeks time at Twickenham.
Martin Johnson has had a torred time when it comes to selection as so many of his first choice players are out with injuries. Ironically, it's that man Wilkinson who's fitter than ever.
He candidly says that he is now better than ever. After watching his progression and form with Toulon, it's difficult to disagree with the star flyhalf who's battled injury throughout his career.
"If you could transport the me now straight into the situations of 2001 and 2003, what would I have done? I think the me now would have been handy," he says.
"I am undoubtedly better. There is no way that the 2001 version would have been able to deal with the 2007 World Cup experience. I don't know how I would have dealt with it. I wouldn't have had the intelligence or the experience.
"I was suited to 2001 or 2003 because I was surrounded by people like Mike Catt, Bracken or Dawson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Will Greenwood, Martin Johnson, pillars all around me," he added.
"I was doing things because I was getting a load of help from them. But that person in 2007, or here in France? Not a chance. I am way better now because I understand what is going on.
"Back then it was like a headache trying to work out 100 things at once. It is almost like you are dissecting and composing, all the time. That much mental strain with the pressure of playing at a high level when I was young, without all that help, wouldn't have combined.
"Now I am processing it without too much effort. That is why, if asked if I will ever be back to where I was in 2003, if the exact same situations ever played out I think I would go all right."
For a man who is so critical of his own performances to rate himself so highly now, shows that we're in for a treat. If Wilko can stay fit, the November Tests are set to quite possibly be the defining point in a career that has been such a roller-coaster ride for one of the most talented flyhalfs of all time.
Will fate intervene yet again, or will Jonny be around in 2011, playing the best rugby of his life? Time will tell, but for now, Wilkinson is here to stay.
Once again it's time to take a look at some of the best tries scored in the action packed Air New Zealand Cup, this time from rounds 9 to 12.
It's not always easy keeping up as it happens, so we've got this great compilation video which highlights some of the best moments from the past few weeks.
As you'll see, it's pretty much the Zac Guildford show, with guest appearances by Ben Smith and Israel Dagg. These are the new boys of New Zealand rugby, and you'll see exactly why the likes of flyers Guildford and Smith have been called up for the All Blacks end of year tour.
Guildford scored two hat-tricks in two weeks recently, so some of those tries are included, as well as great individual tries from Sam Whitelock (the galloping lock for Canterbury), Manawatu's Kurt Baker, and Counties Manakau's Tim Nanai Williams.
We've also thrown in some sights and sounds from the tournament, a huge hit to keep you interested, and a couple of pretty blondes. Enjoy.
Time: 05:19 Music: Knights of Cydonia by Muse Try-scorers in order: Sean Maitland, Adam Thomson, Ben Smith, Alby Mathewson, Zac Guildford, Damien Fakafanua, Zac Guildford, Karne Hesketh, Tamati Ellison, Zac Guildford, Paul Perez, Sam Whitelock, Kurt Baker, Zac Guildford, Mike Delaney, Zac Guildford, Tim Nanai Williams, Zac Guildford.
Coincidentally, today we have another clip with Stade Francais flyhalf Lionel Beauxis. Sadly for him though, it's not a clip showing his superb skill, but rather him almost having his head taken off by the Samoan monster that is Henry Tuilagi.
Stade Francais and Perpignan met in the Top 14 at the Stade de France on Saturday. Many expected the hosts to beat last years champions based on their recent form, but it was Perpignan who won the match 20-14.
Tuilagi, who recently got away without as much as a talking to for his huge hit on Ben Foden, wasn't so lucky this time as he smashed the unfortunate Beauxis.
This is another one that could be up for debate, as Beauxis did go down pretty low into the tackle, with Tuilagi going for his trademark hit that's normally aimed around chest height.
Should the tackler adjust according to the movement of the attacking player, or is it fair to penalise and yellow card a guy when he's already committed to the hit? High is high some will say.
I'd say in the case of Henry Tuilagi though, his reputation precedes him, so the referee didn't waste any time in showing him the way to the sideline.
When Bath played Stade Francais in the Heineken Cup last weekend, the same match that we featured with the Matt Banahan hit, Stade flyhalf Lionel Beauxis displayed some superb moments of brilliance.
There's been quite a few requests over the last week, for the one piece of skill in particular, so we've got that up today, and have included another two examples of the quality of the Frenchman.
He slotted a superb dropgoal early in the match, giving Stade the lead with the huge kick that he struck helluva sweetly from the halfway line. Not bad considering he had little time to set himself and not a whole lot of space.
It must be noted that the camera work for this match was great. It looks like there are some new super-slow-mo cameras in action, which pick up and focus on little bits of play, allowing us to see the game in more detail and from a slightly different perspective. If anyone knows anymore about that, please let us know.
A fine example of that camera work, and of Beauxis skill, was when he controlled an incoming 22m drop out with his foot, ala some of the great French footballers. The camera picked it up perfectly and Beauxis showed what a talented player he is.
A few minutes later he sent a pinpoint touchfinder deep into the Bath half, pegging them back as he showed his all round ability with the boot.
London Irish host Leicester at the Madjeski Stadium today as we get back into the Guinness Premiership while the Heineken Cup takes a break for a month or so. Flanker Steffon Armitage will be making his return.
Armitage, who plays at London Irish alongside his brother Delon, will be hoping to catch the eye of the England selectors ahead of the Autumn internationals. We've got this short feature to help you get to know the player, and the family a little better.
Steffon and Delon are the ninth pair of brothers to have played for England. They’ve come a long way to get there though, with quite an interesting background as they came from Trinidad & Tobago, by way of Nice in the South of France.
They both joined the Racing Club of Nice, but Delon was rejected by the France U16’s as they felt he was too tall and skinny. That blow meant he walked away from rugby for a year, taking up football while Steffon joined Grasse Olympique RFC.
Their father, John, now a South Devon-based tour operator, says that he felt Delon would be lost to rugby, but a phone call from England changed his life.
"He used to play mini-rugby for Richmond. Mike Hallasey from the club rang, inviting Delon to join them on an Under-17s tour of Australia.
"Delon went and never looked back. When we moved back to England, he was picked up by London Irish while Steffon went to Saracens.
"Eventually, both boys were at Irish and we were soon resigned to eight-hour round-trips to watch them play at Reading's Madejski Stadium."
It’s a great achievement for the family with such a diverse background.
"In my career I have played everywhere, partly because of people saying I was the wrong shape for one position or another. I started at scrum-half, then I went to centre, then full-back. I even played on the wing,” says versatile Steffon.
"I ended up openside because I wanted to get my hands on the ball, which was not happening at full-back. Anyway, Delon's full-back." Do you think Steffon will ever become a regular Test player, or are their better, bigger players available for England to call upon?
One of the best wingers ever in French rugby, Philippe Saint Andre is now retired and earlier this year, took up the post of Director of Rugby at Toulon in the South of France, leaving Sale for a new challenge.
He’s widely regarded as one of the legends of the game, having captained his country 34 times, with 68 Test caps to his name. One of the highlights of his career was leading France to two Test wins over the All Blacks, in New Zealand in 1994.
He also scored one of the greatest tries in history, in 1991, against England at Twickenham. It was started by another legend, Serge Blanco, from underneath the posts and ended with Saint Andre flying in after collecting a kick from Didier Camberabero.
In France, the try is known as ‘L'Essai du Siècle’, which means The Try of the Century.
"Do you remember Camberabero's little chip, kicking the ball from close to the touchline into the middle of the pitch? You don't that see any more," Saint-Andre says upon reflection.
"Rugby has changed. In my time, the wings, like Campese and Lomu, were the stars, because they scored the tries. Now, everyone scores and props are quicker than wings used to be. Everything has changed."
The quick witted former Gloucester, Bourgoin, and Sale coach touches on rugby philosophy.
"I am a former wing, but if I scored tries it was because the forwards were good. There is a saying in France; you need guys to carry the piano and guys to play the piano."
We had a few people asking if they could see this moment from the recent Toulon vs Saracens Amlin Challenge Cup match, in which we see Saint-Andre attempt to get himself in on the action once again.
Jonny Wilkinson put in a booming touch finder, which Sarries’ Alex Goode tried to take a quick throw-in from. The experienced Saint-Andre was having none of it though, and showed that competitive edge that he always had, by holding Goode back ever so slightly.
It was nothing too serious, but it's been an entertaining couple of weeks, what with players pushing refs, and coaches holding back players. Saint-Andre was simply overeager though, and did it out of instinct no doubt. Check out the related post to watch that awesome try once again.
As predicted by many, Hawkes Bay flyer Zac Guildford has been selected for the All Blacks for their end of year tour of Japan and Europe.
Guildford, who's just 20, came to prominence in the Junior World Championship, scoring two tries in their 44-28 win over England in the final. The occasion was marred by tragedy though, as Guildford's father, Rob, suffered a heart attack in the stands.
His selection for the All Blacks this week has been reward for his stellar performances in the past few seasons, but he's experiencing mixed emotions as it's so soon after the passing of his biggest fan.
"It's a pretty emotional time because this is the one thing I really wanted to achieve for my dad," Guildford said after learning he had made the All Blacks squad. "Since his passing I've been a lot hungrier and just wanting to do all the right things. He knew it was my dream and I promised him over in Tokyo that I would make the All Blacks," he said.
Few are surprised by Guildfords call up for the tour of Australia, Wales, Italy, England, France, and the Barbarians. He is the Air New Zealand Cup's leading try scorer with 13 and has played a huge part in the Magpies' successful season so far.
New Zealand coach Graeme Henry has likened him to the great John Kirwan.
"What's impressed me about Zac, apart from his ability to score, is he's got a great nose for a try," said Henry. "He reminds me of John Kirwan in many ways. He gets on the shoulders of players and gets that final pass to score. He sniffs out tries very well."
Talking about how his dad would feel when hearing the news of his selection:"Oh, he'd be over the moon. I know that it was his dream for me to make the All Blacks. He didn't do it himself, so I think he'd be really proud," Guildford says.
In a bizarre twist of fate, he could be making his debut in the same place that he won the JWC, but lost his father - Tokyo.
"It'd be a little bit emotional, going back to Japan ... but it's a dream to wear the black jersey for just about any kid in New Zealand, and for it to happen to me, you know, it'd just be a very special occasion," he said.
Guildford's mother is extremely proud of the young man and how he's dealt with it all.
"Rob always knew in his heart that one day Zachary would become an All Black," says Debbie Guildford.
"Zac's a very strong young man and I think it would be in some ways an honour - in memory of his father - to be able to run out there in the black jersey," she said.
In another exciting Heineken Cup round 2 game, the visiting Toulouse came back from being 14-0 down, to beat Harlequins 23-19 at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday.
Ugo Monye scored two great tries as he showed how lethal he can be when put in space. It was not enough though, as Toulouse fought back in the second half to beat the home side and claim top spot in Pool 5.
"We have a lot of belief at this club and it showed during that first half when we played ourselves into a really strong position," said Monye.
"But then we didn't look after the ball well enough and we left the door ajar. Lesser teams might not have squeezed through, but Toulouse are a different proposition.
"You cannot give them the openings we allowed. They were given two soft tries and we did ourselves damage more than any inflicted by our opponents.
"Even then, we regained the lead and could have won it at the end, but failed to take two decent chances."
Harlequins head coach John Kingston was naturally disappointed with the result.
"That was far and away the finest rugby we've played this season, so we are frustrated. You can go away and analyse things, but if you drop a high ball, then you fail to spot a three-on-one overlap, then a player trips over as he is heading for the line, you don't need to do much analysing.
"There's no question our situation in the Heineken Cup now is very difficult. But if we can do the business home and away to Sale, beat Cardiff Blues here, then who can tell what will happen with the other results," he said.
Wing Matt Banahan received his marching orders from referee George Clancy during Bath’s meeting with Stade Francais in their tense Heineken Cup meeting at the Rec on the weekend. Stade snuck home with the win late in the match, 29-27.
We’ve featured a few clips lately that have brought up the question of refereeing consistency and leniency. On the Henry Tuilagi video, where we see him absolutely demolish Ben Foden, the referee let the tackle go with out as much as a talking to.
Here though, we see that if a team has been spoken to, the referee gets wound up by repeat offences, and there’s pressure from the opposing team, a refs judgement can easily come into question unfortunately.
The first bit in the clip shows Julien Arias receiving a high tackle, and then a shoulder in the ribs from Shontayne Hape. Arias went off injured, with Bath being penalised and spoken to by Irish referee Clancy.
A little over a minute later, 6ft7 Banahan made a great hit on Mirco Bergamasco. Stade Francais appealed feverishly, from both on the field and the bench. Clancy’s first reaction was to yellow card the giant winger.
Bath coach Steve Meehan questioned the decision, saying that for a yellow card and a penalty to come from it is extraordinary.
"It was a terrific, legal tackle. Where does that come from? He didn't deserve 10 minutes in the bin," he said.
Banahan, still only 22, wants to take his chances to prove that he deserves a regular spot in the England team.
"This is a massive season for me. It's always tough to follow up a really good season with an even better one. But that's what I want to do. I want to improve and show I deserve to be picked by England,” said Banahan.
If he keeps putting in great hits like this, improving his all round game, and charging hard at defences, as we saw on the weekend, he’ll become a top class winger in no time.
Do you think this a great hit by Banahan, or was the referee correct to yellow card him?
Ospreys held on to keep out Clermont in a nail-biting Heineken Cup clash at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday. The French visitors fought back from a 19 point deficit, only to come up short as the hosts won the match 25-24.
Tommy Bowe, Ryan Jones, and Barry Davies scored the tries for Ospreys, with Dan Biggar slotting two conversions and a penalty, while James Hook kicked a dropgoal.
Clermont scored three tries in the second half as they set off on a thrilling comeback that silenced the home crowd. Broke James converted the tries that were scored by Benoit Baby, Thomas Domingo, and Alexandre Lapandry.
Former All Black Jerry Collins summed the match up nicely.
"We got out of jail today,” he said.
“But we've done well to regather and keep it together. We managed to come out on the right side of the scoresheet. Those first 15 minutes (in the second-half), we couldn't do anything right.
"Winning's always better than losing. We'll dissect it on Monday but now enjoy the win."
Northampton Saints prop Brian Mujati has been cited following a push on referee Nigel Owens during the Heineken Cup round 2 match against Perpignan on the weekend.
Mujati, who is from Zimbabwe but has played for the Springboks, pushed Owens in the back and now faces a possibly 6 months to life ban.
He will face an independent disciplinary hearing after Irish citing officer Murray Whyte deemed the offence worthy of further investigation, charging him with "an act contrary to good sportsmanship".
He is set to appear in Dublin on Thursday after his push contravened Law 10.4 (l) - Acts contrary to good sportsmanship.
Owens was furious following the shove he received, and spoke to Mujati directly after play broke down with a forward pass. Saints were apparently shocked by the citing, but it looked a little unnecessary from Mujati in all honesty.
If you watch closely before it happens, the scrum breaks up and Mujati and a few others have a bit of a push and shove. He then trots over and takes it out on Owens, which obviously hurt, so you can understand him having a chat to him.
We've now updated this clip to include the push, whereas if you checked a few hours ago, we had a different version. He pushes early on, then gets reprimanded later.
Takudzwa Ngwenya, the man who hit the headlines in 2007 after skinning Bryan Habana in a World Cup pool game, scored three great tries for Biarritz on the weekend as they beat Gloucester 42-15 in the Heineken Cup.
Known as Zee to his friends, the Zimbabwean turned American has shown that in the two years since that sensational moment that was awarded Try of the Tournament, he’s no one-trick-pony.
His progression from a little known Sevens player in Texas, to playing with the big boys in Europe, has been somewhat of a fairytale.
He was hoping to make it big in American Football after his family moved there when he was 16. His transition into professional rugby came almost by accident.
"During the off-season, I played a bit of rugby sevens for Dallas to stay in shape," he said.
"One of the American national coaches saw me and it all went from here. I'd tried my best in American football but they had big boys of 240 pounds who could run almost as fast as I could.
"I didn't think I would make it because I was too light. When I started playing rugby, I didn't have any skills. I could just run."
On the weekend, we saw exactly how well he can run, as well as chip, swerve, and finish like a top class wing with years of experience. He scored a superb hat-trick in a quick fire fifteen minutes, one of the fastest in European Cup history.
All three tries were taken brilliantly, showing that the young man from Harare has come on in leaps and bounds in the short period of time that he’s been playing rugby, a little over four years to be exact.
While some were sceptical about his signing in France so suddenly after the World Cup in 2007, he’s since proven his critics wrong and has shown huge improvements in his handling, reading of the game, and defence.
He in fact made a brilliant tackle on big Lesley Vainikolo at one stage in the match, bringing down the bulky winger with ease, just 5 meters out from the tryline.
Zee Ngwenya sure looks to be here to stay. He's a great example of a man who took his chance when it was presented to him, and is now one of the most potent finishers in European rugby.
We saw two pulsating Semi Finals in the 2009 Currie Cup this past weekend, showing us exactly why South African rugby is on the top of the world at the moment.
In Durban, many expected the Natal Sharks to be favourites at home against a hard working Freestate Cheetahs side. In Cape Town, tickets to the Newlands match between Western Province and the Blue Bulls had sold out in an hour and a half, such is the rivalry between the two sides.
For the Bulls, Springbok sensation Morne Steyn kicked seven penalties, totally 21 points on the day. Province struggled to get into the match, but the hard work up front, most notably from Tiaan Liebenberg, started to pay off as Joe Pietersen kept them in touch with four penalties of his own.
Gio Aplon, who punched above his weight all day, scored a great try as he sprinted between two big guys to dot down late in the match, with a comeback looking on the cards.
Ace marksman Steyn slotted the match winning kick with three minutes left as the Bulls fended off the Province resurgence, this earning themselves a home final. It ended 21-19 to the Bulls.
The Sharks dominated early possession, territory, and points in their match against the Cheetahs in Durban. It was Hugh Bladen in the commentary box that echoed the thoughts of everyone watching after Juan Martin Hernandez dropkicked the Sharks even further in front: "The Cheetahs are in trouble here."
The Sharks scored two great running tries through Stefan Terblanche and Ruan Pienaar, while the Cheetahs found their opportunities first in the form of tighthead WP Nel crashing over.
A wayward pass from the Sharks then bounced favourably for man of the match Jacques-Louis Potgeiter, who sprinted away for a try against the run of play.
It was Potgeiter again, in the final minute, who dropped back into the pocket for the match winning drop goal, completing a successful Cheetahs fight back and booking his team's ticket to Loftus Versfeld in two weeks time. It ended 23-21 to the Freestate Cheetahs.
We've combined highlights from both semi finals into one compilation with the hopes of bringing you a more in depth look at what was some magnificent rugby from all four teams.
Aside from the tries, we’ve included various other bits, namely some examples of the hard work from the likes of Freestate loosies Ashley Johnson and Heinrich Brussow, and the tactical prowess of Hernandez for the Sharks. Enjoy.
The Heineken Cup is once again capturing the imagination of the rugby world as the top clubs from the northern hemisphere battle it out in one of the most gruelling and entertaining tournaments around. Would YOUlike to be at the final?
Fedex have put together this amazing competition that not only has an awesome prize, but is fun to take part in – a rarity for this type of thing.
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If you win, you’ll get to experience a truly incredible VIP day that is so much more than just being at the biggest game in European rugby.
You’ll get your two VIP tickets to the match, receive signed shirts from each team, be at the post match press conference, get your picture and profile in the official match-day programme, and even deliver the trophy to the winner’s podium! All of this while a photographer captures the day’s events for you.
Round 1 was Quickfire Trivia, and Round 2 is Spot the Team, which opens tomorrow. Register now to take on other rugby fans and stand a chance of winning the ultimate prize – a rugby dream day!
We want the winner to come from the Rugbydump community, so please tell your friends to get on here and watch the neat vid, then enter the competition and give it a shot. It’s fun, and the prize really is great. Good luck!
Please Note: You can still enter as the competition runs until January!
It was Currie Cup Semi final day yesterday in South Africa, as the Sharks hosted the Cheetahs in Durban, and the Bulls travelled to Cape Town to challenge Western Province. The Bulls won 21-19, thanks to a late Morne Steyn penalty.
The Newlands match was set to be a classic, as both sides were scattered with Springbok talent, as well as talented youngsters who served their sides well while the international players were on Test duty.
For Western Province, flanker Schalk Burger was named on the bench after he came away from the Tri Nations with a rib injury that his kept him sidelined since then.
Many questioned coach Alistair Coetzee’s tactics of playing Burger off the bench in what would be such a fierce physical encounter, against the likes of Pierre Spies, Danie Rossouw, and Bakkies Botha.
“Schalk was cleared this week, but the guys have been playing well in that loose trio,” Coetzee said.
“We have to keep those systems going. It’s great to have a Bok like Schalk on the bench, and I’m sure he’ll have a big impact when he comes on in the second half.”
Coetzee was right, as Burger came on and made this monstrous hit on Bok teammate, scrumhalf Fourie Du Preez midway through the second half.
The hit brought the 48 000 strong Newlands crowd to its feet, a poignant moment in the career of the man who received so much castigation for his actions earlier in the season.
The reaction of the crowd and his teammates pretty much said it all, as Burger signalled his return to the game once again with moment that typified the way he has, and always will play the game – at 110%.
It was good to see teammate Du Preez acknowledge the hit with a grin, and Burger himself with a little wink, no doubt in his Test teammates direction.
We'll get a better quality version of this up soon, as well as highlights from both closely contested matches.
Perpignan overcame their shock Heineken Cup defeat last weekend by bouncing back to beat Northampton Saints 29-13 at Aime Giral on Friday.
A week in rugby is clearly a long time. In round 1 Perpignan lost to Treviso, and Saints had beaten Munster. This time round though, Saints failed to repeat their heroics as the hosts were more clinical, taking their opportunities.
They led 20-8 at half time following a penalty try and score from David Marty, with Chris Ashton scoring for the Saints. Brian Mujati later narrowed the gap with his try, but five penalties from Perpignan flyhalf Jerome Porical sealed the convincing win for the home side.
With about 25 minutes left in the match, Saints fullback Ben Foden set off on a little run that was emphatically brought to a halt by the massive number eight, Henry Tuilagi.
It’s one of the biggest hits we’ve seen in a while, with a huge impact as the big Samoan leant all of his 125kg into the far smaller Foden.
Some will say he was lucky to escape punishment as he looked to have led with the shoulder/arm. It wasn’t high though and he appeared to have his left arm involved in some way, albeit slight.
Surprisingly, in this day and age, none of the officials got involved and the tackle was deemed 100% illegal. All too often lately we see big hits get blown up simply because they look bad, and not because they’re illegal.
This one though, was brutal either way. Many have different interpretations of this type of hit. Some will say it was all shoulder, whereas others will say he’s a giant of a man who legally smashed a small guy, hence the spectacular looking impact.
About two weeks ago we brought you the first four parts of this brilliant Jonny Wilkinson documentary from 2002. Today we have the rest of it, allowing you to get to know the man a little better, as well as see him at his best on the field.
In 2009, Wilkinson is currently revelling in his new lease on life with an injury free season at Toulon. As he says in his fascinating column, things are going great at the moment.
"This is exciting. It is years since I have had any continuity in my rugby, but since my season has started here in Toulon I have finally been able to put together a run of games.”
He’s now played over ten consistently, without injury, a point that he’s quite frank about, but he also knows that it could all change at any moment.
“Since the 2003 World Cup, I think the best run I'd had was six in 2004," he said.
"Not for a minute would I tempt fate by suggesting that the injury days are behind me - I still approach every game and training session as if it might be my last - but after such a long period of shut-out, the door is now open and I am ever keener to make the most of every opportunity.
"People want to know how I rate my form, but I almost always say about six out of 10. When I get a bit farther down the road, I might get as far as six-and-a-half. Or maybe not. There is so much more that I am shooting for here; I am still nowhere near where I want to be."
It’s fascinating to watch this documentary from back then, as we see Wilkinson and his mentors talk about the future and the goals that he has. It’s possibly one of the best insights around in terms of what the actual man himself is like off the field.
We also get to see that he’s an absolute workaholic and is obsessive about everything he does, which is probably why he’s considered to be one of the greatest flyhalfs of all time.
We’ll end with a quote from the documentary, which I’m sure will be remembered when he puts on that esteemed white jersey again at the end of the year.
"He's only what, 22, 23? He's not going to reach his best till he's 31." – Steve Black, Newcastle Falcons conditioning coach, on Jonny Wilkinson in 2002.
On Thursday night Napier’s McLean Park the top of the table clash between Hawkes Bay and Canterbury ended with a more than controversial refereeing decision. This incident, about 20 minutes earlier, might have been to blame.
It was a thrilling, high quality match that contained all the intensity and drama of an Air New Zealand Cup classic, the defending champions Canterbury snuck home 27-20 thanks to a late try by Dan Carter.
Canterbury had 10 All Blacks back in their side, including Carter and Richie McCaw. They outscored Hawkes Bay three tries to one, but the match was a closely-fought affair, which ended in controversy as prop Sona Taumalolo dived for the corner in injury time.
Referee Chris Pollock didn’t award the try though, which perhaps came from a delayed concussion after this massive collision he had with Sean Maitland earlier in the match.
It’s not really a funny, but it’s worth watching as it’s possibly one of the biggest ref collisions we’ve seen before.
"That's the hardest I've been hit in a Cup game and I felt it when I hit the ground," said Pollock afterwards.
Italian champions Benetton Treviso produced one of the most sensational upsets in the history of the Heineken Cup as they beat French champions Perpignan 9-8 in the wet on Saturday.
The Italian side have only picked up one win in four seasons of European rugby, so the upset, against the favourites in group 1, came as a bit of a surprise for the players themselves.
South African flyhalf Marius Goosen kicked all three penalties, with Jerome Porical kicking the visitors’ first points in the 54th minute.
Late in the game Porical had a chance of snatching the win after he scored a try with only a few minutes left. His conversion kick went wide though, and it was joy for Italian rugby as they picked up their biggest scalp in the competition to date.
Manager of the winning side, Franco Properzi, was over the moon.
"We've had some good results in the past, but in this game we beat the French champions - we've never done that before. It was a great day for Treviso in the Heineken Cup and a significant day for Italian rugby," said Properzi.
"It was a very hard game and it was made all the more difficult in the beginning because of the wet weather. That helped our scrum and pick and drive, but once the sun came out it allowed Perpignan to throw the ball about.
"It has got to be the greatest win we’ve ever had in the Heineken Cup and it breaks the sequence of eight successive defeats in the tournament that we had suffered in the past two seasons."
"It was a great feeling when the final whistle went and the crowd went mad. They supported us superbly throughout the game and gave us great help."
They travel to Thomond Park next to take on Munster.
The footage isn’t great, as it was low scoring and the weather was terrible, but some have requested to see a glimpse of this great moment for Italian rugby, so we obliged.
The Currie Cup has now reached the Semi Final stage, with the top four sides in South African provincial rugby going head to head this weekend for a place in the final of the longest running domestic rugby competition in the world.
It's been a few weeks since we've posted highlights from the tournament, so today we've got a compilation of some of the best tries scored over the last three rounds.
After 14 matches each, the top four are the Natal Sharks, Western Province, the Blue Bulls, and Freestate, who squeezed in ahead of the Griquas, who were the early front runners, despite being a traditionally smaller union.
So the Sharks will host the Cheetahs in Durban on Saturday, and the Blue Bulls will travel to Newlands in Cape Town to face Western Province.
This selection of tries features a bit of the best from all sides involved in the Semis, and others. We start with that classic try from Fabian Juries, and also include another two great moments from the Sevens flyer.
Another stand out is a superb try by runaway train Tiaan Liebenberg for Western Province against Boland. Anyone who's seen him play (he was at Toulon last season incidentally) will know that he's one of the hardest running hookers in the game. Great stuff from the big guy.
The table topping Sharks scored a few great tries too, with Ruan Pienaar, hooker Craig Burden, and nuber eight Ryan Kankowski all finishing off neat team efforts. The last try for Kankowski was made by the unstoppable Jean Deysel, who as usual, swats off tacklers like flies.
One of the best tries though was scored by Griquas centre Barry Geel, who got on the end of a brilliant move, fumbled, but then regathered brilliantly.
The Leicester Tigers overcame a 26-8 deficit to fight back at Welford Road against the Ospreys in their opening Heineken Cup match. They earned a 32-32 draw after a pulsating second half comeback.
The injury-ravaged side lost four key players before kick-off and found themselves facing an on form Ospreys side who raced into the lead with tries by Shane Williams and Tommy Bowe. Teenage flyhalf Dan Biggar was faultless with the boot, ending with a personal tally of 22 points.
The Tigers however had a young man named Billy Twelvetrees in their lineup, after he came in as a late replacement. He took his chance with both hands, scoring a try and slotting 9 points with the boot to earn the Man of the Match award, on debut.
Johne Murphy, Lucas Amorosino, and Jeremy Staunton all scored tries, contributing to their four-try bonus point. It was quite a feat considering they were without the likes of Geordan Murphy, Toby Flood, Sam Vesty, Harry Ellis, Matt Smith, and centre pairing Aaron Mauger and Dan Hipkiss.
Leicester coach Richard Cockerill summed up the fighting spirit.
"We had players unavailable and pulling out at the last minute. The attitude to just go out and play and not give up is what this side is about. The spirit of the players today was fantastic.
“We pride ourselves on having people who want to play for us and not for the money.
“You can buy a team but you can't buy spirit.”
Man of the match Twelvetrees, who only found out he’d be playing 10 minutes before kick off, described it as a dream come true.
"It is what every boy dreams of, playing in the Heineken Cup for Leicester Tigers who are such a prestigious side. I loved every minute of it," said Twelvetrees.
"He did some good things in pre-season after being on loan at Bedford but everyone has to earn the right to play in the side - he got in by luck and took his chance," said coach Cockerill.
Former European champions Toulouse sent a message out to the other contenders in the tournament as they put on a superb display of rugby as they beat the Sale Sharks 36-17 in the South of France.
Toulouse ran in five tries as they cruised to the bonus point win by dominating the forward battle, then letting their potent backs lose out wide.
Maxime Medard started things off, scoring an early try for the home side after a pinpoint crosskick. They led 24-3 at halftime, with wing Vincent Clerc scoring two tries as he took his tally to 30 tries in the Heineken Cup.
The French international has now overtaken Cardiff Blues wing Dafydd James as the leader for all time in the competition.
Yves Donguy scored the bonus point two minutes after the re-start, before adding the fifth try later in the half to take their lead out to 36-3.
Sale grabbed late consolation tries through prop-cum-lock Rob O'Donnell and wing Ben Cohen.
Toulouse manager Guy Noves described the first-half performance as "virtually excellent”, but warned that next week at Harlequins it will certainly be tougher.
England World Cup winner Ben Cohen took positives from the match, but paid due respect to the highly impressive French side.
"Toulouse attacked us from all angles and deserve respect for their style of play - it was difficult to stop them in the first half," he said.
Record try scorer Vincent Clerc, who's 30 tries came in only 47 appearances, was satisfied with the result and grateful for the opportunities that came his way.
"For myself it was nice to break the record but I didn’t have that in mind when I went out on the field. I wish to thank all the guys who helped me score those tries and I do hope especially that it won’t stop here," he said.
Leinster flanker Shane Jennings has been cited for an alleged eyegouge on London Irish lock Nick Kennedy during their 12-9 loss on Friday in the opening round of the Heineken Cup.
There was a scuffle on the floor in which he looked to have made contact with the eye or eye area, which led to second rower Kennedy protesting vociferously to both Jennings, and later, French referee Romaine Poite.
You can clearly hear him saying that Jennings stuck his finger in his eye.
Citing commissioner for the match, Scottish official Richard McGhee, lodged the charge for alleged contact with the eye/eye area of Kennedy, which is in contravention of Law 10.4 (l) - Acts contrary to good sportsmanship.
An ERC statement said that the independent Judicial Officer would be appointed as soon as practicable.
Jennings remains eligible to play in the Heineken Cup in advance of the hearing, with a date for the hearing not set yet.
Interestingly, when asked about it by captain Bob Casey the next day, Kennedy admitted that he had overreacted, but citing commissioner Richard McGhee has still ruled that Jennings has a case to answer.
The IRB will meet today to discuss the perceived leniency of bans handed out by judicial officers during the summer for similar offences, namely to Schalk Burger and Sergio Parisse.
They are considering giving themselves the right to appeal if they feel the suspension is not sufficient for acts such as eye-gouging, that they consider ‘heinous’. The consistency of all decisions will also be discussed.
If Jennings is found guilty, he is sure to get a more severe ban than what we saw earlier this year for the same offence. We’ll keep an eye on things as they develop.
UPDATE:Jennings has received a 12 week ban, and will not be able to play again until the 6th of January . He has the right to appeal.
Time: 03:24 Note: We've included the ensuing scuffle in this clip, for interests sake.
There’s unfortunately been another out of control fight in a Romanian rugby match, this time between CSU Arad and RCM Timisoara, resulting in three players being taken to hospital after the match.
It’s hard to say what exactly sparked it, but pretty much the whole team was involved in this mass brawl that spread across the field and included substitutes and coaches from both sides.
It started 20 minutes into the first half of the Central and Eastern European Rugby Cup match, held in the western city of Arad, Romania on Sunday
The manager of RCM, Danut Borzas, said that they had received threats before the match, which resulted in their players being punched and kicked after twenty minutes of rugby.
"We have three players in hospital. They were punched and thrown to the ground and then kicked," he said.
One player suffered head injuries, another had a broken nose and the third had several teeth knocked out.
The Romanian Rugby Federation has declined to comment as yet, but Borzas says he will be sending in a complaint, and probably to the International Rugby Federation too.
The match was won 42-16 by RCM Timisoara.
While this type of thing can happen anywhere in the world, something seems to be missing in the culture and minds of these players. Making threats before a match is ridiculous, and certainly not a part of rugby as we know it.