The first round of ticket sales for the upcoming 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand will be available from tomorrow, January 1st 2010.
Fans worldwide will initially only be able to book tickets in the form of official travel packages, which in a nutshell means accommodation, travel, and match tickets.
The two agencies in New Zealand that have the franchise are House of Travel and Seasonz Travel, and they're expecting an overwhelming response.
"There's absolute demand from all parts of the world right now and we expect (the packages) to sell out very quickly," says Brent Thomas of House of Travel.
He says the packages will sell out rapidly, as they've already had enquiries from places like Argentina, South Africa, Europe and the US.
On February 1st corporate packages will go on sale, with venue and team packs becoming available in April. Individual tickets and the ballot for the semi-finals and final will be available later in the year.
Opreys prop Paul James scored twice as his side achieved a hard-fought 21-14 win over the Scarlets in the Welsh derby at Parc y Scarlets on Boxing Day.
James, who was later named Man of the Match for his efforts, scored either side of half time as the hosts fell to their seventh loss in nine outings.
Three second half penalties from Dan Biggar gave the visitors a commanding lead, despite trailing 9-7 at halftime. The match was competitive though, as the first capacity crowd at the new stadium lifted the Scarlets to a late try through Johnathan Edwards, helping them pickup a losing bonus point.
James dived over for his first try after a promising attack from Tommy Bowe and Dan Biggar led to a lineout. The prop picked up the scrappy ball and sniffed out the tryline with the attacking instinct of a wing.
His second was just as impressive, as he found himself stationed out wide before the ball arrived at his toes, which he judged beautifully, before the big dive over the whitewash.
Great effort from the big guy, and an enjoyable match overall.
Leinster regained their top of the table standing in the Magners League on the weekend as they beat Ulster 15-3 in a high tempo derby at the RDS.
Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip scored on either side of halftime for the European champions as they made it 10 straight wins at home.
Ulster, who were slightly under strength after having rested a few players, could only respond with 3 points from Niall O’Connor, while Shaun Berne kicked a penalty and conversion for the home side.
It was 10-3 at halftime after Kearney’s try, that was set up by Gordon Darcy. Kearney picked up the Man of the Match honours as he added to his reputation once again, despite the pass to him for his try looking rather suspect.
Number eight Heaslip showed his power on the run as he swatted away an attempted tackle by Jamie Smith before galloping over for his try.
The result means that Ulster are left with the remarkable statistic of having not won away at Leinster for over ten years.
We’ll have more Magners League highlights, as well as Guinness Premiership action, over the next few days. Please bear with us as things will be slower over this holiday period.
To mark the 75th anniversary of the FIRA-Association Européenne de Rugby, a great match took place last month between the French Barbarians and a European XV at the Stade du Roi Baudouin in Brussels.
Founded in 1979 by Jean-Claude Skrela after playing for the original Barbarians, the French Barbarians have a culture much like that of its British counterparts. They also wear their club socks, and running rugby is the order of the day.
A crowd of over ten thousand turned out in the Belgian capital to watch two sides brimming with talent. The French side contained both current and former Test players with the likes of Dimitri Yachvilli, Jérôme Thion, Sébastien Bruno, Jerome Porical, and Julien Peyrelongue wearing the famous blue hoops.
League convert Karmichael Hunt also turned out for the French side.
The Europe XV had players drawn from Portugal, Georgia, Poland, Spain, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, and England. The team included Romania’s Sorin Socol, Gonçalo Uva of Portugal, former England players Phil Christophers and Magnus Lund, and Spain’s Cesar Sempere.
The match was played in the correct spirit of the occasion, with both sides running the ball from all parts of the pitch. Castres wing Marc Andreu was particularly devastating, as was Jerome Porical who showed his class from the back.
The French Barbarians raced out into the lead, but the European side came back strongly and the match ended 39-26 to the Frenchmen, but as they say, rugby was the winner on a day that not only provided both entertainment for the locals, but was a great promotion for the game across Europe.
"The match represented a wonderful opportunity to show the very high level that players from these so called emerging nations play at. It also highlighted the depth of talent within the European Nations Cup," said FIRA-AER Chairman Jean-Claude Baqué.
Two years after suffering a career-threatening injury, Newport-Gwent Dragons flanker Dan Lydiate made a remarkable comeback. This is the story of how he not only made it back into professional rugby, but earned his first cap for his country.
Twenty one year old Lydiate broke his neck when playing a Heineken Cup group match against Perpignan two years ago, leaving him with temporary paralysis and requiring surgery.
"I wasn’t knocked unconscious or anything like that," he says. "I remember exactly how it happened and laying there thinking ‘it is not good.’ It was a pretty scary time.
"When it happens, you lose the feeling in your arms and legs. Anybody would be scared. The medical people were also scared to move me at first, but they took all the necessary precautions and I couldn’t fault them."
The collision left him with a crushed disc, broken vertebra, and torn ligaments in his neck. He underwent surgery in November 2007, not knowing what the future held.
"I didn’t know if I would walk or whatever, but it was established I was going to be fine," he said. "The next question was whether I would be able to play again. Once I had the operation, they said there was no reason why I couldn’t. You just start building from there."
He was back walking again within three weeks, but a career in the physically bruising world of rugby looked likely to be improbable. He sat out of the game, doing a bit of work on the family farm, and wondering if he’d ever make it back after such an ordeal.
Watching Wales win the Grand Slam in 2008 added to the feeling of disappointment he had to deal with while unable to play. "It was terribly frustrating," said Lydiate. "I love my rugby and was chuffed that Wales had won the Grand Slam. But I found it too difficult to watch at times.
"I suppose they were the darkest days, although through it all, I never let go of the possibility of getting back and maybe, one day, playing at that level."
Exactly two years on from the fateful night, he made his debut against Argentina off the bench at the Millennium Stadium. It was the culmination of a dream that he'd worked hard for after the horrific injury that almost changed his life forever.
"When things like that happen, you are just happy to walk again," he said. "Then, once you start training, you get the bug again and start wondering 'what if?'."
He only got ten minutes to play against Argentina, but loved every moment of it.
"I haven’t stopped smiling," he said, "I kept my cap on as long as I could in the evening function, it was a huge honour for me.
"My family were all down at the game and my mam didn’t stop crying all day, she still had tears in her eyes on Sunday," he said after his debut.
It's the day after Christmas and you've probably had way too much to eat and drink. One thing you haven't had in a couple of days though, is your usual helping of rugby clips here on Rugbydump.
So today things are back on track as I've got this big hit for you from the recent match between the Scarlets and Leinster in the Heineken Cup.
Lately a lot of big tackles have been scrutinised very closely as we've seen some players get away with a few hits they perhaps shouldn't have, and others who have been harshly dealt with by both the refs and the citing commissions.
In November we featured a clip of Scottish wing Sean Lamont putting in two big hits against the Fijians at Murrayfield. Against Leinster a couple of weeks ago, Lamont smashed another Fijian, but this time had ten minutes on the sideline afterwards to think about his technique.
Referee Chris White, after conferring with his touch judge, said that Lamont used his shoulder and didn't wrap his arms as he flew into Isa Nacewa. Despite Lamont's protestations, he was given the yellow card and Leinster kicked the resulting penalty.
It's a perfect example of how two different referees can view a tackle completely differently, as Lamont's second tackle (in the other clip that you can view in the related links) was very similar to this, yet was deemed perfectly legal.
Another interesting point about this clip is that at the end you can see Shane Horgan and Daniel Evans in a bit of a scuffle, with Horgan placing his hand all over the face of Evans. You can hear the crowd react when they see the replay on the big screen in the stadium.
If we've learned anything lately, it's that if Horgan had even so much as touched his fingers on Evans' eyes, it would have been considered some kind of 'eye-gouge', and he may well have been in trouble for it.
It's obvious though that Horgan wasn't doing anything of the sort, but shows you how easily actions can be misinterpreted when scrutinised so critically.
Horgan was basically a few centimetres away from being labelled an eye-gouger for the rest of his career, which is ridiculous. Perhaps something to bear in mind when making judgements about the incidents we've seen this year, and will no doubt see in the future.
'Tis the season to be merry, so instead of keeping an unsavoury incident as the main focus on here, I figured it's best to get this refreshing clip up as soon as possible.
It also involves a prop, but this time it's of a more positive nature as Cardiff Blues front rower Taufa'ao Filise scored a great try against Toulouse at the Stade Municipale on the weekend.
While Toulouse were too strong for the visiting Blues, who wore pink, it was Filise who scored the try of the match as he collected a neat pass from flyhalf Sam Norton-Knight before charging towards to tryline.
Vincent Clerc flew past him, not looking all that interested in getting in the way of the big guy, while Patricio Albacete tried in vain to pull back the runaway train.
It's good to talk up the front rowers, as they generally do a lot fo hard work, with little to show for it. Plus, there's nothing better than seeing an over-sized, hard working ox put the foot down and gas his way to the tryline.
Yes, clichés aplenty, but it was a great try to watch, and it's a fun time of year after all.
The comment at the end is a reference to one of Jonah Lomu's tries against France in the 1999 World Cup semi final, where he wreaked havoc as he headed for the whitewash. You can watch that again by clicking on the related links below this clip.
We've seen a few great prop tries over the years, and always done what's possible to get them archived right here on RD. While this certainly isn't the best ever, it definitely deserves a place on the list as a great prop try.
As suspected, Perpignan prop Jerome Schuster has been cited for what looks to be a headbutt on Munster flanker Denis Leamy during their recent Heineken Cup match at the Stade Aime Giral.
Schuster was yellow carded upon the recommendation of the assistant referee, who was a few metres away as Schuster was pulled to the ground by Leamy. He then overreacted by driving into him with his head.
He will face a disciplinary hearing on January 13, specifically for ‘striking with the head’, which is in contravention of the Law 10.4 (a) - A player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee(s).
If found guilty, the shortest possible ban Schuster will receive is four weeks.
The middle of the range sanction for striking with the head is 8 weeks, while top-end offences carry a punishment of anything from 12 weeks and up. The maximum a player can receive is 2 years.
If Schuster does get suspended, he will miss Perpignan’s last two pool games against Northampton and Bennetton Treviso. It might not bother them too much though, as they’re already out of contention in Pool 1, following two losses to Munster, and one to Treviso.
With all the evidence laid before you, would you ban him, and if yes, for how long?
Biarritz continues to impress in the Heineken Cup as they beat the Newport-Gwent Dragons for a second time, cementing their place at the top of pool 2 of the tournament.
It was a weekend of crazy weather conditions, leading to the match being moved to Parc-y-Scarlets, after the Friday fixture was postponed due to a frozen pitch at Rodney Parade.
The Dragons were unable to make the first half pressure count, as they eventually went down 26-8 to the French side who had Man of the Match Dimitri Yachvili firing on all cylinders.
The scrumhalf contributed all but three of his sides points, scoring two tries and kicking his goal kicks with ease. Richard Fussell scored a nice try for the Dragons after an intercept and neat kick ahead by flanker Joe Bearman.
Aled Brew was sin-binned for taking fullback Nicolas Brusque out in the air in the second half, while Damien Traille slotted a dropgoal a short while later. Yachvilli scored one try from a short lineout move, then another following an intercept.
Dragons coach Paul Turner admitted that Biarritz deserved the win.
"The most disappointing aspect was that we didn't produce the sort of performances that we showed earlier in the season. Our accuracy was not there, our skill level was poor and we didn't look like a team.
"It was disappointing to have to leave Rodney Parade because we were really looking forward to getting them on our home patch and putting some pressure on them,” he added.
"But they played a very tight game, they got their fringe game going and disappointingly we get sucked into playing the same way. Then Dimitri Yachvili did the rest."
Stories travel fast in sporting circles, and while many of us may have heard the rumours a while back, Gareth Thomas publicly admitted the truth about his sexuality this past weekend.
Thomas, capped over 100 times for Wales and former captain of the British & Irish Lions, is the epitome of masculinity. Big, strong, and anything but pretty, he's managed to fool everyone for years as he slotted into the role of your typical male rugby player.
In his own words, he became a 'master of disguise' as he learnt who to like, what to say, and how to react to the usual banter that goes on amongst the macho male rugby fraternity.
Plunged into a state of anxiety and depression, and having split up with his wife, he's now come forward to tell his story, in the hope that others will realise that there's nothing to be ashamed of.
One of the top referees in rugby, Nigel Owens, announced that he's gay a few years back, and has since found that his career hasn't been tarnished in the slightest from it. He feels that Thomas will be pleasantly surprised at how few people actually consider it an issue.
"I can understand why it is big news because he's the first professional rugby player to come out but as far as people are concerned it's just a case of 'so what, let's just get on with it'.
"It comes with a bit of a taboo, still, that you will be known as 'the gay rugby player', probably as I am known now as 'the gay referee'.
"It certainly has died down but there's still that bit of stigma that you can expect from certain people.
"But as far as the rugby community goes as a whole, I'm sure he will be very pleasantly surprised, like I was, that you're able to just get on with it," he added.
Thomas, now 35, has appreciated the positive response from the majority of fans so far.
"I just want to thank everyone for the amazing response I have received, on behalf of me, my family and friends. I hope that by saying this I can make a big difference to others in my situation. But for now, I just want to focus on being a rugby player."
Thomas is a Welsh legend, and a rugby player first and foremost. Highly respected already, this difficult decision that he's made will hopefully change the attitudes of many when it comes to accepting that one can be gay and not only play rugby, but achieve great things in it.
In this interview clip, we've included a nice try that he scored against Edinburgh for Cardiff a few months back, as it wasn't shown on the site at the time.
Thomas is a big supporter of Childline in the UK, who you can contact if you ever need to discuss anything that's troubling you. You can call 0800 1111 free of charge, or visit their website at www.childline.org.uk
Time: 02:35 More info: We posted this story, in more detail, here a few days back. Full interview: You can watch the in-depth, 28 minute interview with Thomas here.
Munster recorded a brilliant away win in the Heineken Cup as they beat Perpignan 37-14 at the Stade Aime Giral, picking up a bonus point in the process.
The French champions had a run of 16 successive European wins, with 23 unbeaten in all competitions. The last time they lost at home in a European competition was to Wasps, in 2004.
Munster changed all that though as they took control of the group, scoring tries through Denis Fogarty, Denis Hurley, Jean De Villiers, and Doug Howlett.
Perpignan prop Jerome Schuster was yellow carded for what looked like a charge into a ruck with the head, to put it mildly. Ronan O’Gara was then sin-binned a minute later for an early tackle as the Catalan side looked to counter-attack.
Guilhem Guirado scored for the home side with a nice move at the front of the lineout, but then Jean De Villiers showed his class by breaking through the Perpignan midfield with a nice step and handoff to score a quality try.
Doug Howlett then scored with a minute left in the match after a neat kick through by O’Gara, who was back on the field to show that he still has all the tricks.
It was a highly enjoyable game of rugby that had the intensity that one would expect to see from two of the top teams in the tournament.
"It's a great day for us. We put a lot of hard work into the game and we had a big work ethic, especially at the breakdown,” said Munster captain Paul O’Connell.
"We were patient and, once we transferred what we'd been doing on the training ground onto the pitch, then we knew we'd play well."
After losing in a disappointing way a week earlier, Leicester came back nicely to beat Clermont 20-15 to keep their Heineken Cup hopes alive.
Tigers scrumhalf Ben Youngs kept British & Irish Lion Harry Ellis on the bench for the full 80 minutes, as he once again showed his promise with a mature overall performance, and an excellent break that set up a try for Anthony Allen.
"I was going to score myself but there was a lot of noise outside me and I thought if I don’t give it to Anthony then he might kill me," Youngs explained.
"It’s probably the biggest game I’ve played for Leicester. I had not started much before this season so it’s good to get a run of games. I am really pleased that the coaches played me for the full 80 so it shows they have faith in me."
Despite him setting up the more than valuable try, assistant coach Matt O’Connor has told the 20 year old that he needs to focus more on his all-round game, than only producing the big moments.
"Ben’s a good player and he will play more and more footie for us if he continues to play like that. He’s a special talent, but he’s got to make sure he has the nuts and bolts and the basics of his game every week — that’s what makes a team tick.
"We will take the special things when they come, but he’s got to be good at the basics every week," he added.
Kiwi Scott Hamilton scored ran away for a vital try six minutes from time after a poor Toby Flood kick landed in his hands somehow, allowing him to sprint 55 metres and dive in at the corner.
Brock James kicked a second penalty to take his side into bonus-point contention, following on from his impressive three drop goals earlier in the match.
Leicester and Clermont are now both four points behind the leaders of Pool 3, the Ospreys, who will meet both sides next month.
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Leinster once again showed their class yesterday as they scored seven tries on their way to a 39-7 victory over the Scarlets in Round 4 of the Heineken Cup at the RDS.
Three unanswered tries in the first half got them on their way before they secured the bonus point early in the second with a fourth. Rob Kearney, Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll picked up two tries each, with Shane Horgan scoring a nice intercept try.
Coach Michael Cheika praised his side for taking their chances with some excellent finishing.
"I think that we probably took the chances that appeared to us and it made it a bit easier than I thought it would be, because the Scarlets are a pretty dangerous team when they get going."
"We made a few elementary errors early on, gave them some opportunities and we were lucky they didn't take them and then we were able to get our shape together."
Rob Kearney showed that he is human after all as he made more errors than we’ve seen from him all year (roughly two), namely when he allowed the ball to bounce with let Rhys Priestland run in for Scarlets only try of the non-contest.
Leinster and London Irish now top Pool 6, both with 15 points each.
New Zealand went two from two as they won their second consecutive IRB World Series Sevens leg in George, beating Fiji in the final, following on from their great tournament win in Dubai.
Their 21-12 final victory over their biggest rivals confirms that they're back in the swing of things after a pretty disappointing run last season, as they incredibly failed to win a tournament.
They now have 48 points and a 12 point advantage over Fiji, with Samoa third after two rounds.
Flyer Sherwin Stowers was a standout player for NZ throughout the tournament, and looks to be the real find of the past few weeks. He'll no doubt tear up the Sevens circuit over the next few months, and we'll hopefully then see him in action in the Super 14.
Coach Gordon Tietjens praised his 12-man squad, who did well to come back from being two tries down against England, and then narrowly beat Kenya 17-14 in the Semi Final.
"The final was different from our two previous matches in that we took the lead and stayed ahead. Captain DJ Forbes led by example and younger members of the squad can only learn from him.
"We have made the perfect start with two victories after a terrible time last year. There is a long way to go but we will take it one tournament at a time and give it our best shot," he promised.
This video features their road to the final, as well as the big match itself. Highlights covered are against Samoa, the United States, Wales, England, Kenya, and then the final against Fiji.
We'll have the best bits from this weekend's rugby action for you soon. Requests have been few and far between though, so please send them in if you're hoping to see specific clips. Thanks.
This week we've had a few suspensions handed out following incidents from the Heineken Cup. Earlier it was revealed that Stade Francais' Julien Dupuy got six months for his attack on Stephen Ferris. For Brive, two players were suspended following their tempered meeting with London Irish.
Brive hooker Guillaume Ribes was red carded after he was pinged by the touch judge as having kicked and punched hooker Danie Coetzee as a scrum broke up. Replays showed that it was actually lock Arnaud Mela who connected with the big uppercut.
Both players were suspended at disciplinary hearings though, with Ribes receiving four weeks for his apparent kick, and Mela got seven weeks as he clearly connected with Coetzees face. The kick by Ribes wasn't shown on the match feed, but he received the ban nevertheless.
Mela's offence, punching/striking an opponent, was considered to be in the mid range, but two previous incidents were also taken into account when the decision was made.
As you can see in this clip, the match continued with a lot of niggle, leading to frustrated hooker Coetzee, as well as his opposite number, both being yellow carded after a scuffle.
On Saturday the two sides play eachother in their second leg, a match that Exiles coach Toby Booth is worried might boil over once again.
"I can't control how people approach a game," Booth said. "For whatever the reasons, frustration – and I understand these aspects – Brive took the law into their own hands and transgressed beyond the call of duty, in my opinion.
"Some of that stuff is potentially career-threatening and for me that is where the line stops. It is a tough game and people do things that are careless rather than malicious, but I can't control people's mindsets. I am concerned to read reports that Brive are going to come with a better team, put pride back in the jersey and that they stamped their feet in the changing room after the game.
"That normally transpires into only one thing – a pretty messy first 15 minutes. The only thing that you can hope that there is some self-control. I want plenty of passion, and everyone wants passion and aggression, it is part of it. But you also want some self-control and the referee has to be strong because he is the person that will dictate whether that can go on or not.
"Last Saturday reminded me of something like Neath v Pontypridd in the 1970s at some points. It has been a long, long time that I have seen a scrum coming up and a second row sending one through into the hooker. All we can worry about is what we do and how we approach the game. It is very important for us to keep our Heineken Cup hopes alive."
Young Welsh centre Jonathan Davies made this fantastic tackle against Leinster in the Heineken Cup on the weekend as his side, the Scarlets, went down 32-7 at home.
You can watch the highlights of the match here if you haven't already. There were some great tries scored as Leinster got off to a flyer, going 22-0 up early on.
Scarlets came back with a great try to Davies, who at times seems to be referred to as Jon, which helps to avoid mix-ups when pundit, commentator, and former Wales player Jonathan Davies is around.
Jon powered through the defence, evading at least three tacklers on his way to the tryline. He showed the same power later in the match, as he picked up and drove Leinster flanker Kevin McLaughlin back a good few metres.
You can't help but think back to another Welsh centre lifting up and carrying back his opposition a few years back. On that day it was Gavin Henson, and it was a young Englishman he imposed himself on, not an Irishman.
Davies seems to be the real deal, and perhaps it won't be long before we see him in action for his country as a regular starter. He replaced Shanklin for the final Test of the Autumn Internationals against Australia, and will no doubt feature strongly in the upcoming Six Nations.
With all the focus on match highlights in recent times, we tend to neglect an aspect of rugby that we know many of you love to watch over and over again - the big hit.
While there's been many this year, we haven't featured them all here as individual clips, but material for our next compilation vid is building up nicely.
In fact there's more than enough hits now, there's just a lack of time. But we're working on it, and Try Savers & Rib Breakers 11 should be on the way within the next few months.
A tackle that I've received a number of requests for is this bone-crunching hit from Sale's Lee Thomas on Harlequins' Will Skinner in their recent meeting at The Stoop.
It was a great game of rugby, and if you haven't caught the highlights yet, be sure to check them out in the related links below, as both sides scored a few great tries.
This hit by Sale centre, Thomas, rocked Skinner to the point that he needed to take a few minutes to recover from a serious case of having the wind knocked out of him. To his credit, that's all it was, and he got up shortly afterwards and soldiered on.
A cracking hit, from a cracking game of rugby. Enjoy.
This year has been pretty serious one in terms of incidents, both off field and on. We don't need to go through them all, but you've read about and seen them right here on RD. With that in mind, what you're about to see is a breath of fresh air.
USA flanker Todd Clever is a busy man. Contracted to the Lions in South Africa, Clever is also the USA Eagles captain, and an integral part of the USA Sevens side for the last few seasons.
In the past year he's played Currie Cup & Super 14 rugby for the Lions, played against the Lions (of the British & Irish variety), played in the Sevens Rugby World Cup, and played in 2011 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
Travelling between Johannesburg and San Diego, Clever leads a hectic, but eventful life. Earlier this month he attended the premiere of Invictus in LA, and was fortunate enough to meet Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, and the other stars of the movie on the red carpet.
Not originally scheduled to play at this years George Sevens, Clever got a last minute phonecall to say that some of their players were injured, and he needed to fly 'home' to South Africa earlier than planned.
Arrangements were made, and he got on a last minute flight to make it down for the second leg of this season's IRB World Sevens Series in the Eastern Cape.
That brings us to this clip, and a hilarious, but awesome moment as Clever brought his own piece of showmanship to George with an outrageous dive over his teamate and physio on the way to the tryline.
It was a classic dive and brilliant piece of entertainment for the crowd, the viewers at home, and now us. The physio might disagree, but she stayed calm and apparently only let out a little scream as he flew over her by a matter of inches.
Yes he could easily have run around, and yes if things weren't timed right, he might have injured a few people in the process. But, in much the same way that he intercepted a pass to start the best try of the 2007 World Cup, everything worked out perfectly.
The snow of Stade Marcel Michelin did little to dampen the occasion as Pool Three of the Heineken Cup produced a high scoring match that had hosts Clermont running out victors 40-30 over the Leicester Tigers.
Clermont dominated the match before Leicester saved face with a late flurry of tries from Toby Flood, Anthony Allen, and Jeremy Staunton.
"Credit to Clermont for that first 50 or 60 minutes, they played fantastically well," Flood said afterwards. "But for us it is a big look at ourselves. Clermont came out of the blocks and we turned over the ball and conceded points."
"We let it go during that first hour and we are really disappointed they got that far ahead of us," he added.
The two sides meet again on Saturday, this time at Welford Road, but with the control shown by the French side, they’d probably be favourites for the match.
"It is a very important game next weekend. Our pride has been dented, and it is important we bounce back," said Flood.
Leicester were determined to take something away from the game as they searched frantically for two losing bonus points. They almost got them right at the death with one final counter-attack, in what was an exciting finish to the entertaining match.
Clermont, who led 35-9 with little over 20 minutes left, kept them out though, denying the visitors the consolation points.
"We kept battling and in the end we are disappointed not to come away with anything,” Flood added.
A great win for Clermont, who will take plenty of confidence from the way they scored points at will in the first half. Leicester, who conceded the most points they ever have in Europe, will need to win this weekend to stay afloat in Pool Three.
Time: 03:09 Note: If you'd like the longer highlights with French commentary, you can view them here
Bath picked up their first pool win of their Heineken Cup campaign as they beat Edinburgh 16-9 after a nailbiting finish at the Recreation Ground.
They still have a small chance of qualifying for the quarter finals after they scored two tries through hooker Peter Dixon and wing Michael Stephenson. Fijian flyhalf Nicky Little kicked two penalties, while Chris Paterson kicked three for Edinburgh.
The return match will be in Scotland next weekend, and Steve Meehan’s Bath side will know that they have the slimmest of chances and need to make that count.
"It gives us a chance, a sniff," he said. "It's great to be travelling to Edinburgh at the end of this week with an opportunity. Conditions being fine, you'd expect another entertaining game.
"We made a terrific start. There was great intent from the guys and we want to see more of that. The win is very important from the squad's point of view especially as we have a number of players unavailable.
"It's terrific to see the effort transferred from the training field to the pitch. But it's very important that it is maintained."
Man of the Match Luke Watson was impressive for his new club, and naturally delighted with the win. "The morale has been great since I got here. It's very much about the team, not the individual.
"Watching the games from South Africa, I was feeling very frustrated for the boys. There's a great team spirit and unity, people pulling hard for the Bath badge."
The match ended with Edinburgh pushing hard at the line for phase after phase before the ball was eventually turned over, allowing Bath to kick it out.
Bizarrely, skipper Michael Claassens threw the ball directly into touch, conceding yet another penalty under the posts. Edinburgh weren’t able to take advantage and snatch the draw though, and game ended with Bath breathing a sigh of relief.
In what was without a doubt one of the most entertaining games of the weekend, Sale went to the Twickenham Stoop and picked up a bonus-point win as they beat Harlequins 29-19 in a thrilling Heineken Cup encounter.
Harlequins are now bottom of Pool Five after three defeats and will need a miracle to reach the quarter-finals after they were outscored by four tries to three.
The match was played at a high tempo as both sides showed attack intent from the start. It was Sale though who made the first breakthrough with an excellent try in the seventh minute for Dwayne Peel.
Sale then doubled their lead through Nick Macleod, and with both tries having been converted by Charlie Hodgson, they were off to a 14-0 lead.
Harlequins flyhalf, New Zealander Nick Evans, then showed his class as he attacked the line then chipped the defense before regathering to beat the covering Macleod for a great try.
From the kick-off, a loss in concentration led Nick Easter to drop the ball under pressure which allowed David Seymour to pounce on the loose ball and dart away for a try to silence to crowd.
Quins then got back into the game with a lovely try, finished David Strettle, but made by great hands from Chris Robshaw and Chris Brooker in the tightest of spaces.
Four minutes into the second half Easter scored by battering his way over the Sale line for a try that Evans duly converted. Sale then scored another cracking try after some quality passing. This time it was former England winger Ben Cohen who dived over in the corner, scoring his 33rd European try in both competitions.
This match was a breath of fresh air and a great example of how rugby should, and can, be played if both teams have the right attitude going in to it.
Will Greenwood also managed to come up with a rather amusing piece of commentary as he described Charlie Hodgson’s run in that last try.
"Hips swivelling.. Which way am I going..? I’m dancing. I’m a little matador!"
Former Wallaby lock Dan Vickerman led Cambridge to a 31-27 victory over Oxford in the annual Varsity Match at Twickenham on Thursday. It was the 128th meeting between the two prestigious University sides, a tradition that dates back to 1872.
Some famous players have turned out for the two sides over the years. Most notably David Kirk, former All Blacks captain; Nick Mallet, former Springbok player and coach, now with Italy; former England flyhalf Rob Andrew; Wallaby wing Joe Roff, who captained Oxford in 2007, and more recently, Simon Danielli of Scotland.
Last year former All Black hooker Anton Oliver played an instrumental part in Oxford’s win over Cambridge, and this year other internationals on display were Canadian flanker Stan McKeen and former USA scrumhalf Doug Rowe.
On the coaching staff, Oxford had Brian Ashton in charge, while Cambridge had the services of Shaun Edwards to help out with their defence.
Dan Vickerman, who is doing a three-year Land Economy course, took part in last year’s loss for Cambridge so he was hoping to avenge it this time around. His team did just that, meaning that they have now won the traditional battle 61 times and Oxford 53, with 14 draws.
''In my career, I've had the opportunity to learn from some seriously good players - George Gregan, Phil Waugh, Steve Larkham,'' Vickerman said. ''Hopefully you can pass on a bit of that knowledge to some of the younger guys.''
Despite having ambitions to play in next years 129th match, players can only captain their side once, making the win for Vickerman that much sweeter.
''That's the unique thing about it, you get one opportunity to captain the side and you don't want to go out losing that one, so I'm just pretty happy we could put the best performance on and so down the track, when I'm old and grumpy, we had a win,'' he said.
''These sort of games epitomise why we play rugby, for the enjoyment. It's an amateur game and everybody out there is putting their body on the line and enjoying what they're doing and I couldn't ask for any more.
''Rugby is about winning, no matter what level you play at, and for me, winning out there was pretty special,'' Vickerman said.
As you might have seen in the highlights from the weekend, Stade Francais scrumhalf Julien Dupuy did his best to get himself in hot water by sticking his fingers where they don’t belong – in the eyes of Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris.
While the highlights clip didn’t show the incident too clearly, we’ve got a better piece of footage for you here today, which includes it slowed down, as well as words from Ferris following the match.
Dupuy, who was yellow carded earlier for an off the ball shoulder charge, raked his fingers over the face and eyes of Ferris not once, but twice.
The British & Irish Lions player did well not to react, but a fight broke out at the same time, with two other players being yellow carded.
One of those players, Stade Francais prop David Attoub, is also the focus of attention this morning as a photograph of him shoving his finger into Ferris’ eye is also being reviewed, apparently. You can view that here.
The two will more than likely be fingered by the citing commissioner some time today. Dupuy will be anyway, as it might be difficult to suspend a player based on a photograph like that.
"I was furious," said Ferris, who had his headgear ripped off during the incident.
"When I was on the ground I felt numerous fingers in my eye. There was argy-bargy throughout the game, and I don't mind that, rugby is a physical game.
"I would hate to get anyone cited and if someone hit me a dig in the jaw I would take it and get on with the game, but not when someone goes for your eyes. It's disappointing because I thought it was being cut out of the game, but it still seems to be in the French game and it has to be cut out.
"I will just let the citing commissioner sort it out. There was no apology afterwards. All Dupuy said to me on the pitch was 'I did not do anything, nothing happened' and I said ‘we’ll soon see’ and just walked off."
If convicted, Dupuy will face a lengthy ban that will be at least as severe as what Shane Jennings recently got handed, 12 weeks, for an incident that didn’t look as bad as this one. We’ll keep you updated as we hear more.
UPDATE: Dupuy has been handed 6 months for his actions. Attoub's case is postponed until further evidence is available.
Defending champions Leinster scored three tries in the first half as they blew away the Scarlets with a 32-7 victory at Parc y Scarlets in the Heineken Cup.
Despite flying to a 22-0 lead in just 29 minutes, they were only able to secure the bonus point nine minutes from time, through flanker Sean O’Brien.
Shane Horgan scored a great try early on, followed by Gordon D’Arcy and Shaun Berne. Berne, playing in the absence of Jonny Sexton, provided 17 of his team’s points against the previously unbeaten Scarlets.
The hosts, missing the injured Mark Jones, Matthew Rees and Dafydd Jones, struck back in the second half with a try by Jonathan Davies, but their misery was compounded by having a player yellow carded.
Leinster have now bolstered their chances of reaching the quarter finals after they had earlier lost to London Irish in Dublin before getting things back on track against Brive.
Coach Michael Cheika was relieved that his players didn’t pay the price for complacency in the second half after they had shot out the blocks in the first.
"I was pleased with the first half and the result," said Cheika. "But we gave them too much of a look-in in the second half."
"When you play like we did in the first half you have just got to keep going. It worked out in the end. We want to make sure we eradicate that second-half performance and that mindset before Dublin next week," he added.
Ulster beat Stade Francais 23-13 at Ravenhill yesterday in an entertaining Heineken Cup match that frustrated the visitors and resulted in a few off the ball scuffles, including one incident that will probably end with the player being suspended.
Ian Humphreys, named Man of the Match, was brilliant on the day as he put on a superb display, playing a part in the first try for Nigel Brady, then starting a great try for Simon Danielli early in the second half.
With Ulster ahead by a decent margin, Stade attempted to run the ball when possible, but failed to finish off on numerous occasions. The frustration told as captain Rodrigo Roncero clearly lost his composure, and Julien Dupuy allegedly eye-gouged Stephen Ferris.
The French side finally got things right six minutes from time as they scored a nice try through Julien Arias, but it was too late as the home side picked up a great win.
The result puts them on nine points each, and they will meet again next weekend in a match that will prove crucial to the outcome of their group.
"All they were saying on the pitch was: 'See you next week.'" Stephen Ferris said afterwards.
"Every Heineken Cup game is a tough game. I think they were thinking of coming over here and getting an easy win and then throwing the ball around in Brussels for their expanded fan base," he added.
The video reviewers will have an interesting time with this one, as Roncero apparently threw a few punches that went unpunished, and Dupuy will no doubt be sitting out for some time after he raked his fingers across the face of Ferris twice.
Time: 05:03 Discuss: We'd love to hear your thoughts on the match, and the incidents, on the forum here
Munster showed their experience by coming from behind to get the win against a Perpignan side that scored three tries against them in the Pool 1 Heineken Cup match at Thomond Park last night.
Under pressure after being dropped from the Ireland side that played the Springboks, Ronan O’Gara came back well as he kicked Munster to a thrilling 24-23 victory over the Top 14 champions.
It was the visitors who scored three tries though, two of which were outstanding. The first of the three was scored by Yoann Vivalda after a sloppy lineout, but then Nicolas Durand outdid Doug Howlett one-on-one with a superb step before touching down in the corner.
O’Gara and Jerome Porical exchanged penalties in the second half, before the 70th minute produced an excellent solo effort from former Cheetahs fullback, South African Philip Burger.
The former Sevens player, who showed such promise in the Currie Cup in 2007, collected the ball just outside his 22 before racing downfield to outstrip the Munster defenders and score a classic try that took the visitors into the lead with ten minutes left.
All the hard work was undone though as flanker Bertrand Guiry gave a penalty away right in front of the posts with a high tackle. O’Gara duly kicked the match-winning points, and the home side now look on track to quality for the quarter finals for the twelfth successive year.
Munster coach Tony McGahan praised Man of the Match O’Gara’s performance.
"I thought Ronan O'Gara was outstanding. He has been outstanding ever since he came back into the camp after the autumn internationals," said McGahan.
"He is a tremendously strong-willed person. He did not lose his belief and we certainly did not lose our belief in him. It was an outstanding performance from an outstanding player. Everyone is delighted for him," he added.
November was an extremely busy month on the international rugby calender as the world watched the might of the southern hemisphere take on the best of the north in Tests across Europe.
We brought you highlights from each and every big match over that period, so you hopefully didn't miss out on any of the action in what was an intriguing month of rugby.
There's been mutterings that the standard of play was not of the highest order, and while that may be true to an extent, it was a fascinating few weeks that produced a few surprise results, and gave teams a fairly good indication of where they are in terms of building towards 2011.
While New Zealand have regained their spot at the top of the world rankings with a great set of results on tour, South Africa had a lousy time and will now have a much needed rest. It was a disapointing time for the Wallabies as they didn't achieve their Grand Slam, but they ended the tour on a high with a nice win over Wales, who themselves played some good rugby at times.
England weren't too impressive as they were struck down by injuries once again, Scotland achieved a historic win over Australia, and Ireland showed why they are Six Nations champions, and why they'll be such a threat again when things kick off early next year. France on the other hand, put in a great performance against the Springboks, but fell to pieces against a rampant All Black side.
Moustaches, Rasta singers, and a suspension or two, November had it all, and you can relive the best bits through this excellent video made by a top RD video contributor. Enjoy, and be sure to check out the Heineken Cup action this weekend, as Round 3 kicks off tonight. If you miss it, we'll get the good stuff up here early next week.
Matt Banahan’s two week suspension is not the only banning of the week, as Scarlets loose forward Josh Turnbull has also been punished, following his reckless tackle on Edinburgh’s Nick de Luca in the Magners League.
Turnbull was handed a five week suspension after he was yellow carded for a tackle on de Luca only seconds after coming onto the field on Saturday.
A hearing took place at the Millennium Stadium on Wednesday and was chaired by WRU Professional Disciplinary Panel member Terry Vaux.
It was determined that the offence was in the mid range of sanctions and after serving out his five weeks, Turnbull will be free to play again on January 14th.
The 21 year old will miss three Magners League, and two Heineken Cup matches as a result, and because of the Six Nations coming up too, he will only be able to play in the Magners League again from February 20th.
After coming on for Simon Easterby, you can see in the clip that Turnbull was only in the action for a matter of seconds. That would make him probably the only player to have ever been sent off after such a short amount of time on the field.
Former Brisbane Broncos NRL star Karmichael Hunt, who severed his ties with rugby league earlier this year, is now playing union with Biarritz in France. Still getting used to the game, he recently showed that not all cross-code transitions go completely without hiccups.
Hunt was born in New Zealand but moved to Australia with his family when he was young. He played for the Broncos in Brisbane since the age of 17, and later represented Queensland and Australia.
He was considered one of the most talented players to play the game, but made the shock announcement in July that he was going to make an unprecedented switch to AFL (Aussie Rules Football), joining the new Gold Coast franchise in 2011.
No other player has ever made that switch, playing both NRL and AFL professionally at the highest level. He’s only 23 now, and his contract is for three years.
Being a multi-talented player, Hunt wasn’t satisfied with that though, so took on a 6 month contract playing Rugby Union with Biarritz. That makes him the only player to have ever played all three codes professionally.
Unfortunately, unlike other League converts, Hunt’s situation is that he won’t have the time to really settle into the fifteen man game. Even if he does impress, he’ll be gone by May so it’s probably not ideal for the local fans.
Personally though, it’s a nice opportunity for him to learn new cultures and experience a different side of life with his girlfriend. "France is a pretty special part of the world and where we are staying... it is material for a postcard," he said. "We managed to get a nice cosy apartment in the centre of Biarritz and are on the doorstep of the beach."
He made his debut in the Top 14 last month, and against Racing Metro last week there was quite an amusing incident as he showed that he’s still a little rusty when it comes to the rules of rugby union.
"With our side clearly dominant for the majority of the game it looked like we were in for a win until I made a comical error," he said on his website.
"After one of the Racing players kicked the ball through the line and went after it to score, I whisked over to impede. Not knowing about the rule of having to force the ball once you're in your own in-goal, I battered the ball dead like I would if I were in a Broncos jersey and to my surprise, gave away a penalty try in the process!"
Time: 0:32 Ouch: The League fans weren't too happy about Hunt's move to AFL. Evidence here.
The fate of Matt Banahan will tonight be decided by a three-man RFU disciplinary panel after the Bath wing was sent off for stamping against Northampton Saints in the Guinness Premiership on the weekend.
Banahan was shown a straight red card following his stamping on Stephen Myler, and action that could mean he faces a suspension of at least two weeks. Bath will apparently contest the red card and possible ban, as the England wing stands to miss back-to-back Heineken Cup games against Edinburgh.
"It didn't look like a red card," said head coach Steve Meehan.
Myler, the player who was on the receiving end of the 6ft7 wing’s boot, played down the incident, which will possibly work in Banahan’s favour when it comes to a ruling.
"Myler said that he made contact with his forearm, not his head, but the assistant referee said he made contact with his head. The referee wasn't influenced by anyone except the assistant referee who told him it was a red card," he said.
While there is a difference between stamping and rucking, many have called for the latter to be brought back into the game, including former players who can see the value in getting a player to release the ball, or get on his side, by administering a bit of shoe-pie.
If this were 15 years ago, the incident would go unnoticed, but the rules these days are clear, so Banahan will most likely be facing a couple of weeks on the sideline.
Update 10/12/2009: Following the disciplinary hearing late last night, it was confirmed that he has been handed a two week suspension.
New Zealand got their IRB World Series Sevens campaign under way in positive fashion as they beat Samoa 24-12 in a gripping final on Saturday.
The NZ Sevens side had a disappointing series last season following injuries and loss of form. This first outing back shows that they’re once again going to be a handful over the next few months.
"I thought we might have been a bit undercooked," New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens said of the decision not to enter his side into any pre-Dubai warm-up tournaments.
"But you put in the work and you reap the riches. The players have put everything into this win. What really pleased me was winning so well today in all three matches."
They beat Kenya 17-14 in a tense quarter final, then cruised past Fiji in the semi, beating them 19-0. In the final, they got off to a good start as they went 10-0 up after tries from Tomasi Cama and captain DJ Forbes.
Samoa fought back though to get a 12-10 lead after tries scored by Reupena Levasa and Mikaele Pesamino early in the second half. Manawatu youngster Kurt Baker then scored a nice try, before Cama sealed the win with his second.
"That's sevens rugby. They bounced back but we had the winning mentality," Tietjens said.
The series now heads to George in South Africa for the second leg this coming weekend. The home side, champions last season, will probably be favourites, but New Zealand will hope to carry over some of their good form.
"You've got to be out there and work really hard," Tietjens said. "Starting well is a bonus because if you start slowly it's a real struggle to get up. Consistency is about winning tournaments and also consistency of performance is about doing well.
"You're never going to win every tournament; it's not going to happen. But you've got to be a real contender when it comes to the series."
The IRB, in conjunction with the International Rugby Players Association (IRPA), has announced the contenders for the IRPA Try of the Year 2009.
The list comprises tries from three June internationals, three November internationals, three from the British & Irish Lions series, three Tri Nations, and three from the Six Nations.
France and New Zealand feature with three tries each, while Shane Williams is the only player on the list to have two tries featured, one for Wales and one for the British & Irish Lions.
Last year Brian O’Driscoll won the Inaugral IRPA Try of the Year Award with the great try he scored against Australia, but for the first time this year, it’s the public who will vote to determine the winner.
"The IRPA Try of the Year is a hugely anticipated Award. Fans have an opportunity to vote for players representing eight nations, plus the British & Irish Lions, and I am sure the vote will be close," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
All you need to do is send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the number of the try you think should win. You can vote until December 31, with the winner being announced in early January 2010.
Fifteen tries is a lot to cram into one video, so we've split it over two so replays are included, giving you a good overall idea of which you should vote for.
1 Berrick Barnes | 2 Lee Byrne | 3 Gonzalo Comacho 4 Jaque Fourie | 5 Imanol Harinordoquy | 6 Jamie Heaslip 7 Cedric Heymans | 8 Rob Kearney | 9 Ma'a Nonu 10 Isaac Ross | 11 Shane Williams | 12 Alexander Yanyushkin 13 Vincent Clerc | 14 Shane Williams | 15 Mils Muliaina