28 Sep 2012

Can Argentina overturn the All Blacks in La Plata?

Most respected pundits suggest that Argentina's best chance of securing a first Rugby Championship victory will arrive in the final round of this year's tournament, when the Pumas host Australia in Rosario.

So what are the chances then, of Santiago Phelan's men upsetting the odds and turning over the current World Champions, New Zealand, in La Plata one week earlier?

Today Dumptackle Rugby Blog takes a look at the key areas which will define the historic contest at the beautiful Estadio Ciudad de La Plata this weekend, nicknamed the 'City of Diagonals' and how Argentina will look to conduce an error prone performance from the All Blacks.

26 Sep 2012

Richie McCaw rated best captain of all time

With the recently announced news that (Sir) Richie McCaw will take a well earned sabbatical in 2013, missing the Crusaders' Super 15 challenge (as well as the All Blacks' June Internationals) before his triumphant Rugby Championship return, Dumptackle Rugby Blog decided to take a look at the most successful international captains in rugby union history.

But how do you judge an international captain? Is it by World Cups won? The number of test matches won? Or is it continued success over time?

Well it seems (Sir) Richie McCaw has all bases covered, leading the rugby union pile in almost all areas according to data compiled from ESPN Scrum.....

Is Chris Robshaw's England captaincy under threat?

Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw may be England's latest Golden boy following a 'Roy of the Rovers' like campaign for club and country in 2011/12, but his England mentor, Stuart Lancaster, is not afraid to upset the apple cart.

On Tuesday, the England head coach insisted that he would not be naming his England Captain until the squad were together for the Autumn internationals, prior to the team's first outing with Fiji on 10th November.

Lancaster's failure to endorse the incumbent captain sparked a few surprised murmurings around the press. Robshaw, it appears, is not the shoe-in many had presumed across the land. In fact, the door seems to be wide open for a renewed contest for the England captaincy.

Accordingly, this week Dumptackle Rugby Blog takes a look at the credentials of Robshaw and the main contenders to lead the Red Rose this autumn, should he be over-looked.

21 Sep 2012

BT Vision's proposed breakaway plunges European Rugby into chaos

Digested the news yet? Rugby in Europe may be booming like never before, but it could be about to experience the greatest single sporting revolution since Kerry Packer's sojourn into World Series Cricket in the mid 1970's; an upheaval which changed the way the Gentleman's game was played forever..

I'm not talking about rugby players wearing multi-coloured pyjamas as was the case back then. Parisien club Stade Francais have that covered already! This rugby revolution has potentially very far reaching consequences, especially for the Celts.

If you haven't heard yet, Premiership Rugby agreed an astonishing £152 million contract with BT Vision last week, securing rights to broadcast English domestic rugby matches, in addition to European matches involving English clubs from the 2014-15 season onwards.

By that time, the current agreement governing continental competition will have expired, paving the way for a potential restructuring of the European game or a 'new dazzling European tournament' as was described by BT Vision's Chief Executive Marc Watson.

20 Sep 2012

Stick or Twist for Heyneke Meyer?

It seems Heyneke Meyer is already facing a genuine conundrum, just 7 games into his short tenure as South African Head Coach.

Surprising draws against the Poms and the Pumas, followed by successive defeats to both Australia and New Zealand have resulted in the former Bulls supremo facing a barrage of criticism from fans and media a-like, unsatisfied with the style of his stewardship.

To many, his simple, conservative approach has been exposed as 'archaic' by SA's more dynamic rivals from the Antipodes.

Faith has not been lost in the north of the country though (the Bulls' heartland). It appears Meyer truly splits opinion in his homeland. So how much merit is there behind the criticism he is facing and why should we back him?

This week, Dumptackle Rugby Blog has a look at both sides of the coin in the discussion.

Should Meyer stick with the principles which brought him so much Super Rugby success with the Bulls or is it time for him to twist and usher in a new era of attacking South African rugby?

7 Sep 2012

Steve Hansen is the 'Puppet Master' in dealings with the media

Steve Hansen has only been in charge of the All Blacks for five games in his short tenure as New Zealand Head Coach thus far, but already he is looking supremely comfortable in the role.

One might say there is even an air of arrogance about the Cantabrian.

Prior to his appointment, there had been worries about Hansen's potential dealings with the media, as he stepped up from his All Blacks' assistant role (where the glare of the cameras is a little less intense). Many Kiwis bristled at the thought of Hansen, journalists, dictophones and cameras in the same room.

It is pretty common knowledge that 'Shags' can be a bit grumpy and there were musings prior to his promotion that despite his proficiency on the training paddock and his obvious technical expertise, the PR side of things may be a jarring and embarassing weakness for the NZRU.

How the public tide of opinion has changed....

5 Sep 2012

'Murderball' - Wheelchair Rugby at the Paralympics

'People call it bumper cars with a ball but it's more like chess with violence'.

If you are a little confused, that is how Team GB's captain, Steve Brown, referred to the sport which he competes in and consequently holds so dear to his heart:

Wheelchair Rugby or 'Murderball', as it has often been described since the release of  the Oscar nominated documentary of the same name in 2005.

Today marks the opening of the game of Wheelchair Rugby's pool phase at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, with Great Britain battling the world champions, USA.

For those unaware of the sport, it's tough, uncompromising and certainly not for the feint hearted. Those of a nervous disposition may wish to halt reading now. It is almost gladiatorial-esque in nature...or maybe akin to 90's favourite Robot Wars if you prefer more modern imagery!

3 Sep 2012

Exeter Chiefs aiming for the stars with planned expansion of Sandy Park

In the Westcountry, there is currently growing thought that the Exeter Chiefs have the potential to become a powerhouse of the domestic game in England. Maybe even European challengers.

It's a pretty bold statement for a team which has never won a domestic title in it's history and all the more intriguing when one considers that up until two years ago, the Devonshire based side had primarily toiled in the relative depths of the English Championship.

 There are a variety of reasons for the optimism though.

While Devon historically has been disadvantaged economically compared to other parts of the country, heavily reliant on seasonal trades such as tourism and farming, it's premier rugby club has been bucking the trend in recent years. Business it seems is thriving and the balance sheet is about to look even healthier....