29 Aug 2012

Nick Evans - The Quick Fire Round

In Part II of our interview with Nick Evans, we see how the Quins man fares under 'intense' pressure, as we put him through his paces in our Dumptackle Rugby Blog .....


Read on to find out Nick's earliest rugby memory, childhood hero, desert island discs and much more.

Nick also reveals all the inside knowledge on his team mates at Quins, including who's the Stoop's 'Einstein', who's the laziest trainer and which music lover in the team may have a secret crush on Justin Bieber*.

(*May contain lie)

28 Aug 2012

Opinion: Australia's Robbie Deans Conundrum

Robbie Deans, the Wallabies' rugby union coach, has been receiving a fair bit of cop over the last few weeks with regard to Australia's poor performances against the All Blacks in the opening two rounds of this year's Rugby Championship.

A lacklustre effort in Sydney followed by an emphatic nilling at Eden Park (for the first time in 50 years), locked the Bledisloe Cup in the NZRU trophy cabinet for yet another year on Saturday (and what's more, the Bledisloe is sitting next to the glistening William Webb Ellis Cup too).

That's been a bit of a bitter pill to swallow for some Wallabies supporters and the knives have been coming out as fans and past players a-like look to deflect their woes.

'Dingo Deans' - the foreigner in the ranks is the one to blame for many. Is the criticism warranted though?

26 Aug 2012

Team of the Rugby Championship - Week Two

 The dust has barely settled following the exploits of Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in the second round of 2012's inaugural Rugby Championship, but it's time to reveal who made Dumptackle Rugby Blog's team of round two.

As one might suspect there is a heavy All Black influence, after their nilling of Australia at Eden Park secured New Zealand the Bledisloe Cup for yet another year. A number of Pumas also impressed though, after securing a stirring draw in Mendoza against the Springboks. Read on to see who caught our eye in particular and why!

 Team of Round Two:

1.Roncero, 2.Guinazu, 3.Franks, 4.Albacete, 5.Timani, 6.Messam/Cabello, 7.Lobbe, 8.Reid, 9.Smith, 10.Carter, 12.Fernandez, 13.Williams, 11.Camacho, 14.Jane, 15.Dagg

23 Aug 2012

Nick Evans Exclusive Interview - Aviva Premiership Preview

A couple of weeks ago, Dumptackle Rugby Blog had the pleasure of interviewing Nick Evans; star of Harlequin's victorious 2012 Aviva Premiership winning campaign and winner of it's prestigious 'Player's Player of the Year' award.

We chatted about everything from pre-season preparations to his history with Aussie Rules as a youngster and how at times, he had felt like 'God's hacky-sac' during the last Rugby World Cup in his native New Zealand.

I must say that Nick came across as a thoroughly down to earth guy and it was refreshing to be met by a professional sportsman with such a positive attitude, given the harsh criticism that many suffer in the media. That's the end of the love in though...make your own judgment by reading the interview in full below!

22 Aug 2012

Definitive Guide to 2012/13 Aviva Premiership Signings

While some Englishmen have joyfully basked in the warm after-glow of the 2012 Olympics this summer, others have been counting down the days until that oval ball shaped game that we love... returns.

The wait is almost over though, with the Aviva Premiership commencing in 10 days time, as Harlequins begin their defence of the title against London Wasps (part of a glorious double header at Twickenham).

It's fair to say that a lot has changed since those hazy days in late May though, when Quins victory over Leicester allowed new English golden boy, Chris Robshaw, the opportunity to get his mitts on the Cup. Since then, every team has been busy in the transfer market in an effort to bridge the gap.

So, to help you understand your Vereniki Gonevas from your Watisoni Votus, Dumptackle Rugby Blog presents the definitive INS and OUTS for every team in the Aviva Premiership, courtesy of rugby-transfers.

21 Aug 2012

Opinion: SARU decision to axe Lions for the Southern Kings in 2013 Super 15 is a complete shambles

The South African Rugby Union's decision (announced last Thursday) to relegate the Johannesburg based Lions from next year's Super Rugby competition, and promote a new franchise, the Southern Kings, in their place (for one guaranteed year only) has been regarded by most onlookers as a bit of a shambles.

Whatever your thoughts on the political motivations behind the move, which are admittedly complex (when set against a backdrop of a nation still recovering from the social lopsidedness of past Apartheid), the lack of co-operation in arriving at the decision will leave neither camp content. Both in fact have already publicly voiced their disgruntlement since.

For around 7 years, this saga has plodded on with the impending possibility that a new Eastern Cape based side could be added to the South African conference. The idea being, that the new team would be able to boost 'transformation' - ie. develop a high number of black players in a sport which is still dominated by the white population at the top level in South Africa.

Ultimately though, their entry into the competition has come at the painful expense of another franchise; the Lions.

20 Aug 2012

Wallabies 'Strength and Conditioning' Coach joins Dumptackle Rugby Blog

It gives me great pleasure to reveal that Dumptackle Rugby Blog is spreading it's wings a little, as we team up with 'Pro Training Programs' - a site dedicated to providing professional training programs to the public.

From this point onwards, readers of the blog will be able to enjoy posts from David Boyle, a board member of the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association, who currently works with the Wallabies rugby union team (among other professional teams around the world).

His professional knowledge on high performance and elite training (as well as his past experiences playing rugby league with the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the 1980's) should provide some fascinating insights, so keep tuned for his first post to go live shortly...

For now though, here's a little more information on 'Pro Training Programs' itself and why you may find yourself investing in one of their rugby union targeted performance programs.

Team of the Rugby Championship - Week One

The dust has barely settled following the exploits of Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in the first round of 2012's inaugural Rugby Championship, but it's time to reveal who made Dumptackle Rugby Blog's team of round one.

As one might suspect there is a heavy All Black influence, after their away victory over Australia in Sydney gave them some early momentum in the battle for the Bledisloe Cup. A couple of Boks and Wallabies make the grade too for their sterling efforts on the field. For the first time though, there's also a welcome South American flavour in the 15. Read on to see who caught our eye and why!

 Team of Round One:

1.Woodock, 2.Mealamu, 3.Franks, 4.Romano, 5.Sharpe, 6.Coetzee, 7.McCaw, 8.Lobbe, 9.Houggard, 10.Carter, 12.Steyn, 13.Nonu, 11.Habana, 14.Camacho, 15.Dagg

18 Aug 2012

Argentina stumble against Boks, but fairy tale isn't over yet

All league games in Argentina were apparently suspended this weekend to give local supporters of the Pumas the opportunity to watch Argentina's battle with the Springboks live. The tussle after all was not just any test match. It was an occasion of significant historic importance.

Argentina's entry into the Rugby Championship was perceived by many as just reward for over a decade of tireless campaigning off the field and sizeable success on it. Legendary Pumas such as Agustin Pichot, Felipe Contepomi and Hugo Porta had laid the foundations, but it was the current generation who were given the task of doing their heroes justice.

Santiago Phelan's men in truth perhaps didn't play to their potential in Cape Town, but most pragmatists prior to the tournament believed that Argentina's best chance to overturn one of the SANZAR powerhouses would come in the final week of the competition anyway, facing Australia at home in Rosario. The logic behind that assumption seems all the more sound now, after the 27-6 loss suffered in week one.

Dynamite Dagg reproduces World Cup heroics in Bledisloe victory

Navigating the Wallabies losing dressing room, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a dartboard with Israel Dagg's cheeky, open-mouthed mug imposed on the bulls eye. Twice in a row now, it has been the Crusaders and Hawkes Bay flier that has broken Australian hearts with attacking fireworks from full back.

In the Rugby World Cup semi final last year, his searing break and magical flicked offload to Ma'a Nonu set up the only try of the game, as the All Blacks secured their right to play in the final. Once more last night, he produced the goods when it mattered most too, despite a quiet Super 15 by his own impeccably high standards. Wallabies coach Robbie Deans must be sick of the sight of him. How can you restrict that kind of brilliance? The only hope is to subdue.

In many ways the performances of the two sides in the first Bledisloe game of 2012 were reflected in the two full backs on show. While Kurtley Beale was often to be found fumbling his way round the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, missing two try saving tackles on the All Black wingers and knocking on a simple pass in his own 22, Dagg had the opposition at his mercy.

16 Aug 2012

Rugby Championship - Australia vs New Zealand Preview

Sydney welcomes the All Blacks to ANZ Stadium this week-end for the first game of the newly formed 'Rugby Championship', with the Wallabies looking to exact revenge over their trans-tasman rivals, after their crushing loss to the same team in the RWC semi final last year.

That day the All Blacks nullified their opponents on the ground with ease; McCaw and Reid dishing out the damage in the loose forwards. Israel Dagg and Corey Jane produced the necessary fireworks on attack and fly half Aaron Cruden overshadowed the much hyped Quade Cooper.

The young Wallaby's poor display from 10 provoked delighted jeers from the crowd with every mistake made that night and there is no doubt that the nature of the comprehensive defeat (by 20 points to 6) will have hurt the Wallabies.

Although Australia had suffered a surprise defeat to Ireland in the pool stages of that competition, they had beaten the All Blacks in Brisbane only a month before, as they clinched the 2011 Tri Nations trophy and no doubt will have had real hopes of a repeat performance.

15 Aug 2012

Argentina are ready to ready to disprove the stereotypes.

There remains a prevalent belief among the rugby watching public that since Argentina have never defeated New Zealand nor South Africa, the Pumas will have little chance of turning over the SANZAR nations in the upcoming Rugby Championship. Such beliefs can often be heard espoused outside of South America, but many in Argentina believe that this particular view indicates a failure to truly grasp the quality of Argentine rugby.

Los Pumas are used to dealing with barbed stereotypes aimed at them; big strong forwards, no backs. For years they had to fight tooth and nail to be considered even as 'equals' to northern hemisphere opponents. Regular away wins over Wales, France, Scotland and England between 2001 and 2006 were considered as anomalies by many 'in the know'.

It wasn't until RWC 2007, when Argentina recorded a stirring victory over the French in the tournament's opening game, that the tide of popular opinion turned in their favour (in Europe at least). The heroics of the Pumas in that tournament changed the landscape of global rugby forever and might I add, for the better.

Rugby Championship - South Africa vs Argentina - 5 Key Battles

South Africa have the privilege of hosting Argentina's historic first-ever appearance in a Tier One southern hemisphere tournament this Saturday, as Heynecke Meyer's Springboks take on Santiago Phelan's Pumas in the newly formed 'Rugby Championship'.

While Santiago Phelan and his Argentinian squad will ride on a tide of emotion following years of strong campaigning (by stalwarts such as Agustin Pichot) for the right to regularly test their mettle against the best on offer, the rest of the world will look on with  a sense of intrigue. Just how competitive are these Pumas going to be?

Rugby World Cup winning All Black coach has been brought in to assist the Argentinian coaches this year and it will be fascinating to see how much his presence impacts on the South Americans too. While the Pumas have experimented with a flatter back-line on attack this year, don't expect them to veer to far from their intimidating forwards based game.

Below, Dumptackle Rugby Blog runs through the 5 key battles which should define the final result in Cape Town this weekend.

Rugby Championship - Australia vs New Zealand - 5 Key Battles

Sydney will hold host to the first Bledisloe Cup game of the year on Saturday (to much SANZAR fanfare), as the inaugural 'Rugby Championship' is kicked off in style by the top two IRB ranked teams in world rugby.

Both Australia and Zew Zealand will be looking for a confidence booster ahead of a gruelling tournament which will see each side travel between Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa from now 'til October as they embark on a 6 match marathon to define the top dog in southern hemisphere rugby.

Australia will also have revenge on the mind against New Zealand, after being comprehensively knocked out by the All Blacks in last year's Rugby World Cup semi final by 20 points to 6. Can they beat their trans-Tasman rivals this time round?

Below, Dumptackle Rugby Blog runs through the 5 key battles which should influence the final result in Sydney.

7 Aug 2012

Super Rugby 2012 Awards

 Following on from our 'not so serious' take on the Super Rugby Awards a few weeks ago, Dumptackle Rugby Blog presents our real award ceremony, commending the efforts of those whose star shone brightest in 2012.

While the Chiefs walked away with the ultimate title, after a powerful display against the Sharks in Hamilton, there are still plenty more gongs to hand out.

Read on below to find out who was selected in the following categories:

Team of the Year, Coaches of the Year, Players of the Year, Rookies of the Year, Breath of Fresh Air Award, Individual Try of the Year, Team Try of the year, Match of the Year

5 Aug 2012

Opinion: Chiefs imperious as they bring home Super Rugby title

You've got to salute the mighty Mooloo Men. To leap from 10th to Champions in just twelve months is quite an achievement and all the more impressive when one considers their coach, Dave Rennie, was enjoying his debut season in Super Rugby this year.

How the Cowbells must have been ringing overnight in Hamilton, as they celebrated their 37-6 demolition of the Sharks... or should I say how they must have been ringing from Counties Manukau to Taupo - as 2012 was the year that the whole catchment area, not just Waikato, got behind the Chiefs in their bid to become Super Rugby Champions..

There is no doubt that Chiefs had been the most impressively balanced team in this year's competition. A fine attack masterminded by young conductor Aaron Cruden at fly half and a ferociously mean defence had led many assured judge in the southern hemisphere to predict Chiefs glory in the final. If anyone deserved the title, they did, it seemed. 

3 Aug 2012

Argentina vs Stade Francais Preview

Argentina will enjoy its first ever match in 'the Rugby Championship' in fifteen days time but just which personnel will be chosen to front up against the Springboks remains to be seen. Santiago Phelan's 34 man squad enters the final stage of their preperation this weekend with Argentina taking on Top 14 club Stade Français in Buenos Aires in the first of two matches against the Parisien outfit.

It is an interesting choice of an opponent but a sensible one. Argentina could have tried to secure an international test match, but the callibre of teams avaliable would have been unlikely to match that of Stade Français. It is the European pre-season after all and no national teams are actively training at the moment, aside from the four who will dispute the upcoming 'Rugby Championship' - Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Stade Français is not just any French club either. It is the same club that transformed Juan Martín Hernández into a superstar, the same club that Agustín Pichot captained to the 2007 Top 14 Championship and has been in essence the spiritual home of many Pumas over the last decade. Of the team that defeated France to spectacularly open Rugby World Cup 2007 for example, five players adorned the Parisien's colours in domestic rugby at the time; Hernández, Pichot, Lucas Borges, Ignacio Corleto and Rodrigo Roncero.

2 Aug 2012

Opinion: Chiefs looking to Aaron Cruden for inspiration in Super Rugby Final

Aaron Cruden has come a long way since his formative years kicking rugby balls around the local parks of Palmerston North. Back then, pulling on his beloved Manawatu jersey was the primary aim for a boy whose enthusiasm was entrenched in his country's national sport.

Even a year ago, Cruden had been struggling to make Mark Hammett's stuttering Hurricanes team. A number of erratic performances had seen him fall out of favour with his coach as he failed to replicate the form which had seen him awarded 'IRB World Junior Player of the Year' two years earlier in 2009. How quickly things can change...

This weekend, Cruden has the opportunity to become a Super Rugby champion, as his Chiefs face the Sharks in the final of the Super 15. His performances thus far in 2012 have also had him touted as Super Rugby's potential 'Player of the Season'.

What a  meteoric rise to stardom for the flyhalf.  It is even more astounding though, when one considers the struggles he endured as a young man. At the tender age of 19, Cruden received the news that no man wants to hear; diagnosis - testicular cancer.

1 Aug 2012

Prospect of Olympic Gold could lure talented 'crossover' athletes

Rugby union's tectonic plates are shifting and that shift could accelerate dramatically over the next few years if promoters get their way.

While rugby sevens, may seem to some like a glorified drinking festival, chock a block with students and party-goers more interested in their choice of fancy dress attire than the action taking place on the field, its' admission into the Olympic arena has at least changed the way the rest of the world looks at the sport.

Asia, Russia and the Americas are taking a fresh look at Sevens now that a glint of Olympic gold is discernible. Major economies such as India and Brazil have also publicly stated their intention to improve their national rugby programmes, in order to achieve future competitiveness in the sport.

While Sevens won't be showcased in the Olympics until Rio 2016 (it was only admitted by the IOC in 2011), promoters hope the shortened version will have the same impact on the sport as the popular Twenty20 format had on cricket.

The spectator friendly nature of Sevens seems to suggest that the likelihood of this is high, so who is to say that Sevens rather than 15s  won't churn out rugby's first truly global superstar? Could a Julian Savea for example be as recognisable as Lebron James, Lionel Messi, Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt in four years time?

Fancy training with England Fullback Ben Foden?

Do you fancy training with a shining light from world rugby? Leading European Sports Food company, Multipower, are offering just that; a truly 'once in a lifetime' opportunity...

All you have to do is enter their competition on Facebook by clicking 'like' and your club could be enjoying a pre-season training session with one of their Sportsfood ambassadors; Northampton Saints and England fullback, Ben Foden (pictured above).

Foden has been capped 27 times for his country since his debut against Italy in the 2009 Six Nations, scoring 7 tries in the white shirt of England and is widely regarded as one of the best counter-attacking rugby players in the world.

 Voting for the competition will be activated on Monday 6th August 2012 at 9AM (GMT).

 Good luck to all who enter!

Sharks world class pack need one last lung busting effort to secure 'greatest ever' tag

While backline stars such as JP Pieterson and Freddy Michalak won many of the headlines following the Sharks unlikely victory over the Stormers at Newlands last week, it was the Sharks' tireless forwards who ultimately laid the foundation for their victory and secured their franchise a much coveted berth in the Super 15 final.

Attempting to silence 48,000 parrochial supporters (who had not seen their Stormers lose once at home all season), the Sharks managed to defy the air miles and logic to bamboozle their South African rivals 26-19, just a week after dishing out the same treatment to last years winners, the Queensland Reds, in Brisbane.

Deputy captain, Bismark Du Plessis, may have been brutally handed off  by young Stormers locking sensation Eben Etzebeth early on, but it was in the physicality stakes that the Sharks gained ascendancy over their opponents and that was what left Alistair Coetzee's Stormers searching for answers, which they ultimately couldn't find. At no other point in the season have the Stormers been left so utterly flummoxed by an opposition pack.