Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Random rugby notes

February 23, 2006

ONE: Big news from the northern hemisphere is the shock resignation of Wales coach Mike Ruddock in the middle of a terrible campaign defending the Six Nations championship. Scott Johnson takes over as interim-coach.

TWO: Carlos Spencer is back to his old tricks as Northampton destroy Saracens:

"I've tried some of the things Carlos pulled off out there but only in my back garden," said Paul Grayson, the Northampton coach. "The bloke does things I've never witnessed on a rugby field."

Spencer, blessed with a repertoire of trickery that would have been the envy of Merlin himself, treated the 13,500 crowd to the full 10-course menu in the 58-17 Northampton win.

Continue reading...

And this, from the Telegraph's Paul Bolton:

King Carlos creates havoc

"In the Court of King Carlos he sometimes prefers to play the jester but, at Franklin's Gardens, there was no doubt that Carlos Spencer was on the throne.

"The former All Blacks fly-half produced an audacious performance on Saturday, which suggested that Northampton should be considered dark horses for the Premiership title rather than relegation candidates."

Continue reading...

THREE: The Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) of Australia visited each of that country's Super 14 teams to survey them on a range of topical issues.

The findings were first published on the eve of the inaugural Super 14, on Friday (February 10), with 121 full time contracted Australian players giving their views on various aspects of the Super 14 competition.

Here are some of the results that particularly interested me:

RUPA Super 14 Player survey results:

Most respected opponent (individual from any Super 14 team):
1. Tana Umaga (NZ)
2. Richie McCaw (NZ)
3. Daniel Carter (NZ)

Most feared player:
1. Jerry Collins (NZ)
2. Tana Umaga (NZ)

Dirtiest player:
1. De Wet Barry (South Africa)
2. Bakkies Botha (SA)
3. Troy Flavell (NZ)
4. AJ Venter (SA)

Biggest hitter/tackler:
1. Jerry Collins (NZ)

Source: Rugby Planet

Hard to disagree.

FOUR: Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe is calling out Wallaby scrumhalf and captain George Gregan as a cheat at scrum time. He argues that video analysis clearly shows that Gregan holds the ball back in the hope of milking either free kicks or penalties as well as alleviating the pressure on the ACT front three, as it gives them time to re-align or change their angle.

FIVE: In other Wallaby news, Wendell Sailor faces a ban and fine after being involved in a drunken altercation with a fan outside a Cape Town nightclub.

The Sydney Morning Herald's Greg Crowden thinks it's time for a curfew:

"Will Australian rugby players ever learn that when in a war-zone it's wise to keep your head down?

"Another Australian team heads into Cape Town, and within days another off-field story emerges which has the potential to destabilise the side. And once more it involves Wendell Sailor.

"Will it ever end?

"It will when the management of Australian teams realises that in that part of the world you cannot follow the usual policy of treating footballers as mature human beings. Instead you must use the same rules you would with errant schoolboys.

"This means a strict policy that before matches players are not allowed anywhere near nightclubs or other spots where they can get into trouble. No-go-zones have to be enforced." ...

Continue reading...

SIX: On the other side of the Tasman, Conrad Smith, the Hurricanes centre and consensus pick to fill Tana Umaga's shoes in the All Blacks starting lineup, had a horror injury in the 'Canes match against the Western Force last weekend that saw him break two bones in his right leg.

Speculation is rampant that ABs fullback Mils Muliaina be slotted into the vacant centre position.

SEVEN: Troy Flavell finally returns to action for the Auckland Blues after his two-year sabbatical in Japan. The Blues take on the Queensland Reds this weekend for Flavell's first start.

EIGHT: The most tantalysing matchup this weekend in the Super 14 is that same Reds-Blues game. The Blues need a win desperately. Here's a preview of this coming weekend's Super 14 games. Don't forget to use the links in the upper-right corner of this webpage to get more rugby news & views.

NINE: The lack of quality rugby programming on North America television right now is alarming. Right now mediazone may be the best bet for S14 games, and PPV for 6N. It's not a good solution. Fox Sports World Canada has abandoned the game, and Rogers Sportsnet in Canada only televises Sevens tournaments. There are rumours that Headline Sports "The Score" may be picking up something shortly. The Red Terror will investigate and get back with a report that is long overdue.

TEN: Final note to-day, if you want to see some rugby magic, check out Harry's Movies, a great little website hosting a pile of clips featuring brilliant tries from incomparable All Black fullback Christian Cullen.


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