30 Apr 2012

Clermont vs Leinster - Heineken Cup Semi-Final Review

The stage was set. Clermont; backed by a partisan home crowd at their temporary home of the Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux were down by four points. Camped on the Leinster tryline and riding on the back of a tide of pure emotion, Les Jaunards knew that one last surge was all that was needed to achieve Heineken Cup immortality. The stadium was rocking. The crowd were almost riotous. Over 34,000 supporters packed to the rafters, were on their feet, waiting for their moment. They could smell blood and Leinster, the reigning champions of Europe, were in danger of being engulfed as so may have been before them.

26 Apr 2012

David Campese gunning for England Assistant Role... unless Wayne Smith becomes Head Coach

Former New Zealand Coach Wayne Smith is all but assured an England coaching job....if he wants it that is.

It has been widely reported that Stuart Lancaster visited Smith during the Waikato Chiefs tour of South Africa last week to outline his vision of England progress over the next four years (as can be seen here : Pyramid of Success) and Lancaster offered Smith a variety of roles including surprisingly... the head coaching position. While it initially appeared that just an assistant's job was on the table, it now seems that if he were to accept Lancaster's offer, he would have a far more wide-ranging role with a lot more influence than initially perceived.

25 Apr 2012

Rugby Sevens Team from the Gods - Legends of the Game

The sport of Rugby Sevens is exploding at the moment. It's the excitement factor that is catching the attention of the masses, as it's difficult not to enjoy the end to end Harlem Globe-trotter style action which can be seen in the IRB World Series. With Rugby Sevens inclusion now confirmed in the 2016 Olympics in Rio too, the game is only going to get bigger, faster and better (as outlined by John Kirwan in a previous post). Countries such as Kenya, where the game's 15-a-side code had struggled to establish itself, have now become bonafide contenders in sevens. It is the variety of winners which also makes sevens so exciting, as one feels that many teams on their day could be crowned champions, a far cry from the monopoly the Southern Hemisphere giants have in the 15 man equivalent.

Anyways, today I decided to pick my 'Sevens team from the Gods'. The squad is pure fantasy, with any player from any era available.

24 Apr 2012

The Stars of the 2015 Rugby World Cup

Who will be the stars of the next rugby world cup in 2015? I have come up with a Dumptackle Rookie XV; a team based on talented players which have not yet earned an international cap or have completed 5 or less games at international level.

Wales and Australia are not as well as represented as one would think, but that is because many of their youngsters have been thrown into International rugby from a young age and therefore do not qualify under the less than 5 caps rule. For example, James O'Connor, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Sam Warbuton, George North and Toby Faletau.

As always there are some notable absentees which I just couldn't fit into the fifteen which are outlined below, but here are my choices for the top XV anyway! Feel free to disagree...

23 Apr 2012

Super 15 - Round 9 (Team of the Week and Review)


Highlanders 30 - 27 Blues
Reds 13 - 23 Stormers
Hurricanes 14 - 42 Crusaders
Waratahs 30 - 21 Rebels
Sharks 12 - 18 Chiefs
Bulls 36 - 34 Brumbies
Bye: Cheetahs, Force, Lions

Dumptackle Team of the Week

This week's team has a strong Kiwi feel about it, heavily influenced by the victorious Crusaders, as many of their players were standouts during their dazzling 42-14 away victory over the Hurricanes.
There were a few unlucky players who played well this week for other teams too but didn't quite do enough to merit selection though.

20 Apr 2012

Urban Legend - A Pope dies every time Wales win the Six Nations

Occasionally trawling through the internet one finds rather odd stories/ statistics dug up by some poor soul but today's discovery really takes the biscuit....A wonderful letter was published today in the latest edition of the British Medical Journal, which studied the notion that whenever Wales wins Europe's rugby crown, a Pope passes on into the afterlife.

The urban legend goes that 'every time Wales wins the rugby grand slam, a Pope dies, except for 1978, when Wales was really good and two Popes died".

This idea arose in 2008, when a pair of welsh doctors somehow found this link after researching news from the years of the Welsh Grand Slam victories. They found that of the eight Roman Catholic Pontiffs who had died since 1883, five had passed away in a year when Wales won the Grand Slam. Of course the link is incidental, but while the stats gather up, this urban legend continues to gather 'credibility'!

18 Apr 2012

Former Wallaby Michael Lynagh suffers stroke

Terrible news today has come out of Brisbane, Australia. It is understood that former Wallaby captain Michael Lynagh, who helped kick Australia to World Cup victory in 1991 (and has more recently been seen as a pundit for Super Rugby in the UK) has suffered a stroke aged 48. He is a very young and fit man, making this news all the more shocking.

Lynagh is said to have collapsed before being taken into hospital after apparantly complaining about feeling dizzy while eating dinner with friends and family. He had just recently flown over from London (where he works for Sky Sports) to his home country. He now lies in intensive care at the Royal Brisbane and Womens Hospital and is currently undergoing extensive tests.

17 Apr 2012

James 'The Brand' Haskell on Life in New Zealand

Hello readers.....For anyone who is interested in how James 'The Brand' Haskell © has been faring at the Highlanders in the land of the long white cloud this year, here's a column I read in the Guardian a few days ago. It makes for very interesting reading. enjoy!

"If you should ever fancy an airgun pellet between the shoulder blades, you could do worse than cavort through the backcountry around Dunedin shouting, "Woo-hoo, The Hask!" The chances are you will tweak the nerves of James Haskell, who will almost certainly be out hunting somewhere nearby, armed with said weapon and urged on by Andrew Hore and his other new team-mates at the Highlanders.

"Please don't refer to me as The Hask," he says politely, but with a clear undertone. Then he complains they all call him that in Dunedin, the latest city he calls home, before launching into an explanation of the provenance of a nickname he considers a travesty. It's something to do with a perception that he promotes himself as a brand.

16 Apr 2012

"Daryl Gibson has been coming inside Andrew Mehrtens for years now!" - Dumb quotes from the world of rugby

Seeing as it's the start of the week and there are five long days in which to fill that cavernous rugby void, i've dug up some funny and downright stupid quotes from the world of rugby. to keep you entertained.

Anyone who has watched rugby in New Zealand can recall more than a handful of Murray Mexted's clangers in commentary. My favourite to date was when he described Daryl Gibson's relationship with his Cantebury team-mate Andrew Mehrtens, remarking: "He's been coming inside Andrew Mehrtens for years now..." Simple...but a classic nonetheless! Anyways...I've tried to spread out the quotes between the different positions on the field. If you know any belters which i've missed out on...please let me know in the comments below!


Anton Oliver could be seen as a bit of a philospher at times and certainly spoke with a lot of inteligence. He was no dunce, gaining two degrees in his career, finishing off at Oxford where he read for an Msc in Biodiversity. He did though come up with this remark which wasn't quite up to his usual standards! "If history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again." - Anton Oliver you are a gentleman and scholar.

THE ENGINE ROOM: Jono Gibbes and Troy Flavell

Jono Gibbes was a leader of men and regarded as a bit of a thinker on the field during his time with the Chiefs...enough to earn himself a few caps under Graham Henry in 2004. He came up with a stinker though when he commented: 'Nobody in rugby should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein'. For that, Jono gets a place in the locks and is Captain of our Dunce's team!

Troy Flavell was a player with huge physical capability and plenty was hoped for from him early on his career. He never really delivered on that potential though as he always seemed to get caught up in trouble. Perhaps, he just wasn't quite all there upstairs. As his former coach David Nucifoa commented...."I told him 'Son, what is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?'" To which Troy replied..... 'David...I don't know and I don't care.' Couldn't have summed up Flavell's flaws any better myself really!

15 Apr 2012

Super 15 Review - Round 8 (Video Highlights &Team of the Week)


Blues 23 - 29 Sharks
Force 18 - 23 Waratahs
Crusaders 31 - 24 Stormers
Brumbies 37 - 6 Rebels
Cheetahs 33 - 39 Chiefs
Lions 18 - 32 Bulls

Byes - Highlanders, Hurricanes, Reds

Dumptackle Team of the Week

There were some difficult selections this week as I didn't feel many wingers shone, but a fair few centres did; hence Juan DeJongh gets moved out to the wing after an impressive performance against the Crusaders making room for none other than Sonny Bill in the centres. Francois Houggard and Tawera Kerr Barlow also gave good performances from scrum half but for me it was Piet Van Zyl who helped give the Cheetahs such a fast tempo and they were a joy to watch at times. As always if you disagree with any of the selections, please comment!

1. Arizona Taumololo (Chiefs), 2. Craig Burden (Sharks), 3. Charlie Faumuina (Blues), 4. Scott Fardy (Brumbies), 5. Brodie Retallick (Chiefs) 6. Keegan Daniel (Sharks), 7. Liam Messam (Chiefs)(Crusaders), 8. Kieran Reid (Crusaders), 9. Piet Van Zyl (Cheetahs), 10. Tom Taylor (Crusaders), 12. Pat McCabe (Brumbies), 13. Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs)11. Bryan Habana (Stormers), 14. Juan DeJongh (Stormers), 15. Andrew Horrell (Chiefs)

Player of the Round

Tom Taylor (Crusaders) - It's pretty hard to displace Dan Carter, but Tom Taylor has given coach Todd blackadder some food for thought. It had seemed that the selection of Carter at inside centre was more a case of alleviating some of the pressure off him (as he found his game following a long injury break), but it may now be a long-term strategy for this season. You can't argue with Taylor's steely approach in front of goal and with no player really demanding the inside centre spot at the moment, Carter and Fruean could develop a useful partnership. For his 31 points against the Stormers, Tom Taylor gets the player of the round for Round 8. Watch this space.

11 Apr 2012

Yellow, Red or White card? - A Rule Change Proposal for the IRB

How often have we seen a game turned on it's head from a decision to give/or not give a red card? Think Sam Warburton for his 'spear tackle' in the World Cup Semi against France, which ultimately prevented any hope of Welsh presence in the final....or Tana Umaga and his now infamous clearing of Brian O'Driscoll from a ruck during the 2005 Lions tour, which prevented the Lions' captain from any further participation in the tour. Some fans will disagree with decisions, while others might applaud with a snigger. You can't please everyone. However, what riles most fans and players is when a referee makes a split second decision which impacts a game and they haven't even had a good view of it. It's not the referees fault, they have to judge by instinct and experience and they don't have the use of replays. Should they though?

The white card was introduced this year in the Super 15, to be given when an act of foul play has been suspected but neither the ref or assistant could determine the player responsible or whether the foul was befitting of a disciplinary healing. This introduction seems to have little impact though and given the recent musings about 'gamesmanship' after the Bulls eye gouging claims and players willing to simulate in order to put pressure on a ref and give a white card, perhaps the idea hasn't really worked.

I would propose that the white card was removed as an option. Instead yellow cards are given for all offences. The reason for this would be that the TMO would then have 10 minutes to look over the footage while the player is in the sin bin, watching replays from all angles. This should be enough time to then decide whether the offence actually warranted a red card. If this be the case, the player in question remains off the pitch for the rest of the game, effectively having been given a red card.

Eye Gouging, Professionalism and the White Card

Flip Van der Merwe : The Aftermath

Interesting news has come out surrounding the eye-gouging claims during the Bulls-Crusaders match at Loftus during the weekend. The Guardian reports that:

"The Canterbury Crusaders have been cleared off all charges of eye-gouging by the Super Rugby ruling body Sanzar following allegations from the Northern Bulls after their match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. Bulls spokesman Ian Schwartz issued a statement on the franchise's website (www.thebulls.co.za) on Monday saying "no evidence of eye-gouging was found by Sanzar's judiciary system". Bulls hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle and lock Flip van der Merwe had claimed they were fouled by the Crusaders.
Schwartz said the Bulls would not apologise despite comments by Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder after the game that he expected an apology if the allegations were not proven.

"For them to suggest we must now apologise, just because there is no video evidence available, would mean we have lied," he said. "It is ridiculous to suggest that every time there is a citing and there is not enough evidence, the other team should apologise'. "The rules are clear and we applied them 100 percent correctly. We had the right to raise the matter with the referee and we accept the fact that there was no video evidence."

Given the results of the investigation...do you think this was a case of Crusaders players getting caught red handed but not prosecuted? After all there were two cases of eye gouging claimed, not one and the Crusaders are hardly saints. Also if there were fingers around the eyes, is it likely that both incidents were accidental?

Super 15 Review - Round 7 (Video Highlights and Team of the Week)


Rebels 34- 23 Blues
Hurricanes 42 - 18 Sharks
Reds 20 - 13 Brumbies
Force 12 - 20 Chiefs
Highlanders 6 - 21 Stormers
Cheetahs 26 - 5 Lions
Bulls 32 - 30 Crusaders
Bye - Waratahs

Dumptackle Team of the Week

There were a few difficult decisions this week. Morne Steyn and Beauden Barrett were unlucky to miss selection but ultimately James O'Connor deserved the spot. Julian Savea and Sonny Bill also had strong efforts, as did Dane Coles at hooker for the 'Canes. Surprisingly Sona Taumololo is ommitted too after failing to score another try! Shame on you Sona.... Please comment if you disagree with any of the selections!

15. Joe Pieterson (Stormers), 14. Andre Taylor (Hurricanes), 11. Zac Guildford (Crusaders), 13. Conrad Smith (Hurricanes), 12. Robert Ebersohn (Cheetahs), 10. James O'Connor (Rebels), 9. Francois Houggard (Bulls), 8. Scott Higginbotham (Reds), 7. Karl Lowe Hurricanes), 6. Siya Kolisi (Stormers), 5. Andres Bekker (Stormers), 4. Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), 3. WP Nel (Cheetahs), 2. Craig Burden (Sharks), 1. Dean Greyling (Bulls)

9 Apr 2012

Heineken Cup Quarter-Finals Review

The quarter-finals produced the usual dashes of excellence, bravery and tactical nous this weekend, mixed in with a healthy dollop of 'what the hell was he thinking?', as eight teams got cut down to four. Two of the games were frought with tension and proved once more how the European Cup is arguably the most watchable club rugby tournament in the world at the moment.

Unfortunately I wasn't able too watch all the games live as I was busy falling on my arse and spraining my ankle on the Cornish coast! I'm sure the journey home would still have been far less painful than that of the emotions experienced by the losing teams' fans  (even if my injured foot deprived me of the use of the clutch for most of the drive home; creating a rightly terrified girlfriend in the passenger's seat).

I have thankfully seen the games since with a little help from the nifty Sky+ box though. The results were as follows:

Edinburgh 19-14 Toulouse @ Murrayfield
Leinster 34-3 Cardiff Blues @ Aviva Stadium
Munster 16 - 22 Ulster @ Thomond Park
Saracens 3 - 22 Clermont Auvergne @ Vicarage Road

It seems the form book was thrown out the window for the most part, proving this tipster's predictions for the weekend embarassingly wide of the mark for the most part (with the exception of Leinster's crushing of Cardiff).

5 Apr 2012

Heineken Cup Quarter-finals Preview (Saracens vs Clermont)


Saracens host Clermont Auvergne at Vicarage Road in the second quarter-final on Sunday, which will be refereed by the bilingual Irishman Alain Rolland. This is arguably the most mouth-watering tie of the round, as both have legitimite claims to be the top teams in their respective countries and harbour real hopes on winning the entire competition. Saracens are the current champions of England while Clermont won the French championship the year before. Currently they lie second in the Aviva Premiership and Top 14 respectively, while both finished top of their groups in the pool stages earlier in the Heineken Cup. The sides have met four times in the Cup's history with Clermont coming out on top on three of those occasions. However, past meetings matter little as neither side has had such a massive opportunity to lift the trophy as this year.

4 Apr 2012

Heineken Cup Quarter-finals Preview (Munster vs Ulster)


The first game on Sunday sees Munster play Ulster at Thomond Park, Limerick, and will be refereed by frenchman Roman Poite. The two sides have never met before in Heineken Cup history, a surprising statistic when you consider that Munster have been Champions twice while Ulster have also been crowned top dogs before. Munster curently lie third in their domestic league, while Ulster are fifth (but both have very similar records). On paper therefore, it should be an even contest. Ulster will be worrying though that Munster have shown an ability to up their performance for Europe. They may have lost convincingly at home to Leinster last weekend by 18 points to 9, but they also lost before rounds 3 and 5 in the pool stages, where they bounced back to beat the Scarlets and Castres. Also, in Ronan O'Gara they have a flyhalf who can seize the moment, as Northampton Saints can attest to. Munster's gameplan of using their forwards and kicking for territory is also perfectly suited for knockout competition. Ulster will have to be able to take them on up front and try to gain parity at least, if they have any serious hope of creating an upset.

Heineken Cup Quarterfinals Preview (Saturday’s games)

The Heineken Cup returns to much fanfare this weekend. Finished and forgotten are the pool games. It’s knockout time and there are no second chances now. Ireland has three representatives still in with a chance of being crowned European champions while France has two. England, Scotland and Wales all have one sole team flying their respective flags. The fixture list is as follows:
Saturday 7th April
Edinburgh vs Toulouse @ Murrayfield
Leinster Vs Cardiff Blues @ Aviva Stadium
Sunday 8th April
Munster Vs Ulster @Thormond Park
Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne @ Vicarage Road


First up sees Edinburgh host four times champions Toulouse at Murrayfield, refereed by Welshman Nigel Owens. Edinburgh currently rank 11th out of 12 in the Rabbo Direct Pro 12, while Toulouse head the Top 14 in France. However both teams topped their respective pools earlier in the tournament, so one shouldn’t expect an anialation. Toulouse are regarded as the Real Madrid/ Barcelona of European rugby. In the last decade, they have been crowned champions on three occasions and have made the final five times. Therefore, the thinking is that if you want to be the best, you’ll probably have to beat them in the process. It doesn’t look particularly promising for the Scots if you look at the stats. Their head to head record shows 11 games played; one won and ten lost....so history is not on their side.

2 Apr 2012

Super 15 Review - Round 6 (Video Highlights and Team of the Week)

Highlanders 43-12 Rebels
Hurricanes 38-47 Cheetahs
Chiefs 30-13 Waratahs
Brumbies 26-29 Sharks
Force 45-19 Reds
Lions 13-23 Crusaders
Stormers 20-17 Bulls

Wow what a weekend of Super Rugby! Round 6 saw some colossal match-ups and a host of closely contested games. Friday night saw the Highlanders well and truly hammer the Rebels 43-12. The scores had been locked at 12 all by half time but a second half blitz inspired by Adam Thomson (who bagged a hat-trick) and Ben Smith left the men from Melbourne facing another heavy defeat. The win in Invercargill left the Highlanders top of the NZ conference overnight.