Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rugby - now the semi semi finals are over, we get the real deal SEMI finals of Super Rugby

Schalk Brits -  are you calling me a hooker? (picture from )

Super Rugby

Saturday , July 2

Reds vs Blues 11:40

Stormers vs Crusaders 16:05

The action kicks off in Brisbane where the Reds, overall competition winners and in my eyes favorites for the title, take on the Blues from Auckland. The Reds beaten the Blues, Stormers and Crusaders this year, so why shouldn’t they be favorites? The Reds have had their fair share of injuries this season but have Digby Ioane and Anthony Faingaa as well as flanker Beau Robinson back for this match. Benson Stanley, the Blues centre, had this to say : "At this point in time a win is bloody valuable and it beats sitting on your butt at home and not doing anything." Good man, Benson, tell it like it is. Their sleeper agent, Daniel Braid, who was sent over to play for the Reds for two years for just this type of eventuality, will have the dope on the Reds. The Blues also welcome back speedster Rene Ranger. But at home, the Reds as the form team of the tournament are going to do the business and get into a home final.

Then it’s the Stormers entertaining the Crusaders in Cape Town. Without a home venue this year, the Crusaders have spent the whole season on the road, and now add in another 11000km trip to the total, dodging ash clouds on the way. The last time the two teams met, the Crusaders won, and that was in Cape Town too. But playing a bruising encounter against the Sharks and then all that travel to face the Stormers is hardly ideal preparation for the Crusaders. The Stormers did well to finish second, but when you look at their losses, the Reds, the Crusaders, and to the Bulls when it really mattered, there’s a suspicion they don’t have the steel to go all the way.

The Crusaders in terms of preparation will see them as having a slightly less competent pack than the Sharks, and a slightly more competent backline. You’d have to say a feature of this year’s Super Rugby has been the number of injuries – the Stormers have problems at fly half, scrum half and in the loose forwards, to the extent that they’ve shipped Schalk Brits over from the Saracens as loose cover, and in fairness although he’s a hooker, he’s played there before. Uncertainty about who your two major play makers are going to be surely hands an advantage to the Crusaders. The ‘Saders have a few injury worries of their own, McCaw may be back for the match, but Kieran Read is a big doubt. But I think home advantage and travel are the biggest factors here, so I’m going with the Stormers

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Rugby, as expected Bryce Lawrence makes a tool of himself, Blues and Crusaders progress, and baby Blacks make it four in a row

My hero (picture from )

Fridays match saw the Blues beat the ‘Tahs at Eden Park. Well, somebody saw the Blues beat the Tah’s, but it wasn’t me – no chance this match could have held on Saturday, early match and a late match? It wasn’t really a surprise as these matches normally go to the home team, and the ‘Tahs have an injury list as long as your team – and it’s not that hard to beat a team featuring an orange peeler, a security guard and a physio, is it? The Blues have been one of the form team of the tournament, and now face the tall order of the Reds in Brisbane.

I got up early on Saturday to watch the Sharks try to upset the odds and beat the Crusaders, not exactly at home, but in Nelson in New Zealand. Ringmaster for the occasion was Bryce Lawrence, who we’ll hear more about later. The Sharks had to travel 11000km to get there – can you see me building the excuses already – and it showed, with a lack of accuracy on their part. The ball might have well have been a bar of soap to them for all they could hang on to it. The Sharks played with unrivalled physicality, I’m sure the Crusaders won’t have been tackled backwards like that all season. But they were over eager, trying to throw that miracle pass instead of building patiently. The Crusaders defended well, waited for the opportunities and then took them with their usual ruthless efficiency. Sonny Bill Williams provided a cutting edge in midfield that the Sharks just didn’t possess, and had an excellent match all round, apart from his risible dive for a penalty. The Crusaders now travel to Cape Town to face the Stormers. With a proper home ground, they could easily have been in the top two instead of needing to qualify.

Now to Bryce Lawrence. Can I just say he didn’t affect the outcome of the match in the slightest. But what a puffed up little knob, issuing shrill orders in his nasal voice. Calling a penalty for ‘dangerous play’ before the scrum has even engaged? The Sharks have no idea how to play him either – the last thing you want to do is question him, as Johann Muller in a previous guise as Sharks captain discovered to his cost. It’s got to be all yes sir no sir three bags full with Mr Lawrence, and if I may sir, you’re looking very trim – have you been working out? He gets to ref the final as well, which I’m sure the Stormers will be delighted to hear should they make it that far.

Junior World Champs.

Ireland slipped to a disappointing defeat to Wales, but still made their best finish ever in the competition. What a smashing final though – both teams ran the ball at every opportunity, and you couldn’t put a knife between them in terms of performance. Both countries can look forward to bright future with this sort of quality coming through. Ransom, Ford and Wade were stand out England players for me, while at the end of the day, it was only really Anscombe’s (who will definitely regret that tache one day) kicking that set the teams apart.

New Zealand 33-22 England

5th Place Play-off: Fiji 17-104 South Africa

7th Place Play-off: Wales 38-24 Ireland

9th Place Play-off: Scotland 14-15 Argentina

11th Place Play-off: Tonga 22-34 Italy

3rd place play offs Australia 30 France 17

Super Rugby

Saturday , June 25

Crusaders 36 - 8 Sharks

Friday , June 24

Blues 26 - 13 Waratahs

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Super Rugby Blues, Crusaders, and 7th in sight for Ireland U20's

Sharks in Nelson (picture from )

Super Rugby

The last two places in the semi finals are up for grabs in Super Rugby this weekend. First up we have the Blues taking on the Waratahs at Eden Park. Injuries have taken their toll on the Waratahs to such an extent that they have a scrum half playing at fly half this weekend. They aren’t the only ones with injuries, a grueling 18 match season has knocked the stuffing out of a lot of players. Home advantage always counts for a lot in Super Rugby play offs, and the Tah’s have had to travel all the way from Sydney to get there. On that basis, it’s hard to see the Tah’s upsetting the odds, so the Blues by 5.

The other match has the Crusaders entertaining the Sharks in the unfamiliar surrounds of Trafalgar Stadium in Nelson. Being a complete ignoramus about geography in general, never mind about a far off spot like NZ, I had a look at a map and it’s a fair distance from Christchurch, so it’s not a home match for the ‘Saders by any means.. The emotion is all with the Crusaders, the best finishing team in NZ despite not having played a home match this season due to the earthquake earlier on this year. Are they going to be shaking the Sharks in Nelson? All the signs are there, the Sharks have had to travel 11000km to get there for a start. They don’t have too many injury worries, and the Crusaders have Sonny Bill Williams back. Last time the sides met at Twickenham, the Crusaders where the clear winners. But I’d say it will be a lot closer this time, I can’t see the Crusaders playing an expansive game like that match. The Sharks played really well to beat the Bulls last weekend, superb defense, and more creativity in attack the normal. That travel factor is the killer though, so Crusaders by 7.

Friday , June 24

Blues vs Waratahs 08:35

Saturday , June 25

Crusaders vs Sharks 08:35

Junior World Champs

Ireland were blasted by the Boks 57-15 on Wednesday night. Apparently the South Africans are none too charmed about how they were eliminated from the last four, and Ireland got to bear the full brunt of that. Add to that the disparity in numbers of players to select from, and a very bruising campaign of the Irish, 4 day turnarounds, and playing the Boks twice and England as well, it’s not a surprising result. On Sunday they’ll play Wales for 7th place, and that will be a good finish, their best ever in this their last Championship. The IRFU is pulling out of the champs due to concerns about player welfare – this is right in the middle of off season, and a 4 day turnaround is pretty tough. Conway, Gilroy and Furlong have been the stand out Irish players for me.

The final gets to see the two form teams NZ and England Clash, which I’d reckon the AB’s are going to take.

Semi-final results:

England 31-18 France

New Zealand 37-7 Australia

5th Place semi-finals:

Wales 20-34 Fiji

South Africa 57-15 Ireland

9th Place semi-finals:

Scotland 30-11 Tonga

Argentina 12-8 Italy

11th Place Play-Off 26 Jun, 14:10 Tonga - Italy Stadio Mario Battaglini, Rovigo

9th Place Play-Off 26 Jun, 12:00 Scotland - Argentina Stadio Mario Battaglini, Rovigo

7th Place Play-Off 26 Jun, 12:00 Wales - Ireland Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso

5th Place Play-Off 26 Jun, 14:10 Fiji - South Africa Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso

3rd Place Play-Off 26 Jun, 17:00 France - Australia Stadio Plebiscito, Padova

Final 26 Jun, 19:10 England - New Zealand Stadio Plebiscito, Padova

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rugby -Irish u 20's get a shot at 5th, and the Shark beat the Bulls! Alright!

JP Pietersen picture from
Super Rugby

The final weekend of results saw the Reds rightly top the final standings with a victory of the chiefs. They’ve been the form team of the competition, and have done really well considering the long list of injuries they’ve sustained. The Stormers came in second after beating the Cheetahs as expected – that’s their second top finish in two years, and they should make the final again. Then it’s Crusaders, Blues, and Tah’s who beat the Brumbies easily in the end.

The last place goes to…the Sharks! After a stunning victory in Pretoria. They stunned me anyway, after seeing the Bulls take out the Stormers last weekend, I thought there was no way they were going anywhere except down. And I thought the match was going to be a turgid kicking affair. But there was lots of running rugby on offer, and for once, a smidgen of brain alongside a whole lot of muscle was enough to beat pure muscle. That’s no mean feat to beat, Matfield, Bakkies and Steyn at home. Their reward now though is to fly to New Zealand to take on the Crusaders who pretty comprehensively dismantled them at Twickenham. Monsieur Michalak at fly half and Lambie at 15 seems to be working a treat, Pietersen is on fire at the moment, so , you never know. The Blues and the Waraths compete for the other play off spot.

Junior World Champs.

Ireland beat Scotland 30-6 in their final pool match. Would have been nice to see the game, but nobody could be bothered to show it I’m afraid. If a tree falls down in a forest, and nobody gets to see it, has it really happened? Tries were scored for Ireland by Andrew Conway, with his fourth try of the tournament, who crossed in the 70th minute and Ulster duo Luke Marshall and Niall Annett followed up with two more. Video highlights are here under 'JWC 2011 - Round 3 Pool C highlights' at8.30 minutes. That means they get the play the Boks again for a shot at 5thplace. 5th would be a really good result. I watched the Boks/England match, which they had bothered to show and again a smidgen of brain alongside a whole lot of muscle was enough to beat pure muscle. The Boks did start to play near the end, but it was too little too late. Christian Wade, who looked good for Wasps when they played Leinster in preseason, scored a sensational try which sealed the game for England. All the results and fixtures are at the bottom.

Saturday , June 18

Chiefs 11 - 19 Reds

Crusaders 16 - 9 Hurricanes

Bulls 23 - 26 Sharks

Waratahs 41 - 7 Brumbies

Cheetahs 34 - 44 Stormers

Friday , June 17

Blues 33 - 16 Highlanders

Melbourne Rebels 24 - 27 Western Force

Super Rugby play-offs:

Blues (4th) vs Waratahs (5th)

Date: Friday 24 June

Venue: Eden Park, Auckland

Kick-off: 19:35 (07:35 GMT)

Crusaders (3rd - NZ Conference winners) vs Sharks (6th)

Date: Saturday 25 June 2011

Venue: Trafalgar Park, Nelson

Kick-off: 19:35 (07:35 GMT)

IRB Junior World Championships

18 Jun, 18:10 Italy 6-56 Wales Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso

18 Jun, 18:10 Argentina 15-48 New Zealand Stadio Plebiscito, Padova

18 Jun, 20:10 England 26-20 South Africa Stadio Plebiscito, Padova

18 Jun, 20:10 Ireland 30-13 Scotland Stadio Mario Battaglini, Rovigo

18 Jun, 18:10 Fiji 36-18 Tonga Stadio Mario Battaglini, Rovigo

18 Jun, 20:10 Australia 25-31 France Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso

9th Place Semi Final

22 Jun, 18:00 Scotland - Tonga Stadio Mario Battaglini, Rovigo

22 Jun, 20:10 Argentina - Italy Stadio Mario Battaglini, Rovigo

5th Place Semi Final

22 Jun, 18:00 Wales - Fiji Stadio Plebiscito, Padova

22 Jun, 20:10 South Africa - Ireland Stadio Plebiscito, Padova

Semi Finals

22 Jun, 18:00 England - France Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso

22 Jun, 20:10 New Zealand - Australia Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rugby - Super Rugby gets to the 'Super Six' stage and the Junior Irish are bloodied but unbowed

Andrew Conway picture from
Super Rugby

This is the final weekend of the round robin matches of Super Rugby, and it’s a close enough finish. The Reds are through for Aus, and should deservedly top the table. The Stormers should top the SA conference, and will no doubt beat an improving Cheetahs side. The Blues have a tougher task against the Highlanders than the Crusaders have against the Canes in the fight to top the NZ conference.

The Canes have sucked consistently this season, generally they intersperse periods of excellence between periods of sucking, but this season they are Mr Consistent. Interesting to see what the clear out of Nonu and Hore will bring for them in the future.

Then it’s going to be a slug fest between the Bulls and the Sharks for one of them to go through. This promises to be a typical, low scoring SA derby, high body count, lots of niggle, a snooooze fest for all except the faithful and the lovers of Greco roman style wrestling. The Sharks should have been in the driving seat going in to this match, but due to their risible performance against the Lions last week, they have to go to Pretoria to beat the Bulls to get in to the last 6 now, and I can’t see that happening.

The only opportunity for the Sharks is that they are the one SA side who occasionally try to run round players instead of through them, and this will be handy as they won’t be running through any of the Bulls in a hurry. They don’t quite have the midfield players to pull this off on a consistent basis though, with Meyer Bosman the chief bashing culprit. I’d reckon the Bulls are going to beat the Sharks by their traditional method (beating them to bloody pulp) and then for the Tahs to take the last place by thumping an underperforming Brumbies side.

IRB Junior World Championships

Ireland have had it tough in these championships, having had to take on heavyweights (in every meaning of the word) England and SA. They’ve acquitted themselves well in both matches, the 42-26 scoreline doesn’t do justice to their tenacity and their never say die attitude against the Boks. Andrew Conway scored a blistering try for Ireland ( see that here  under 'JWC Round 2 highlights- Pool C' at 10 mins 30 secs) and they were constantly one pass away from getting past the Boks. Those passes didn’t stick though, but comparing player resources, Ireland punched way, way above their weight by running the Boks a lot closer than the result suggests. Tiernan O'Halloran at full back had a good match, as did Tadhg Furlong. Physicality is something we expect from the Boks, but their number 5 Ruan Venter had an unfortunate and fairly illegal habit of trying to remove the head of whoever he was tackling. Their flyhalf Johan Goosen has some drop goal boot on him, and substitute scrum half Pieter Rademan is a hell of a player.

Ireland wrap things up against Scotland, and I reckon the Scots are going to catch the backlash of two close defeats.

18 Jun, 18:10 Italy - Wales Stadio Comunale di Monigo,

18 Jun, 18:10 Argentina - New Zealand Stadio Plebiscito, Padova

18 Jun, 18:10 Fiji - Tonga Stadio Mario Battaglini, Rovigo

18 Jun, 20:10 Australia - France Stadio Comunale di Monigo,

18 Jun, 20:10 England - South Africa Stadio Plebiscito, Padova

18 Jun, 20:10 Ireland - Scotland Stadio Mario Battaglini, Rovigo

Super Rugby

Friday , June 17

Blues vs Highlanders 19:35

Melbourne Rebels vs Western Force 19:40

Saturday , June 18

Chiefs vs Reds 17:30

Crusaders vs Hurricanes 19:30

Waratahs vs Brumbies 20:30

Bulls vs Sharks 17:05

Cheetahs vs Stormers 19:10

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rugby Ireland under 20's get close and the Sharks make a right bo***cks of reaching the last six

Patrick Lambie Picture from

What rugby drought? Seems to be more than ever on! I watched most of the second half of the England/Ireland jnr World Champs, which from and Irish point of view was the best one to watch. England looked they were going to run away with this one, but Ireland made it really difficult fro them, chipped away and kept in the game. With a bit of luck they could even have won it. Fantastic turn around from the last time they met in the Six Nations. The two Irish players who caught my eye were hooker Niall Annett who was all over the park, and Craig Gilroy, who has future full international written all over him. The English player who caught my eye was Mako Vunipola, all 25 stone of him, tackling him was like tackling a runaway steamroller.

Shark Bite

Sometimes you really have to wonder what you’re doing supporting a team. Take the Sharks for instance. Let’s face it, I could push splinters under my fingernails or whip myself on the back with a cane and get about the same satisfaction as spending two hours watching the Sharks blunder all over the field. For a start, whosever’s in charge of getting the players to the match on time frankly needs to be fired. The team didn’t show up at all until the last 20 minutes, and then in typical fashion they scored 3 tries. This was the easy match before they met the Bulls next weekend, well, they made a right bollocks of that didn’t they? At least they got the draw I suppose. The one highlight for me was seeing the rise and rise of Patrick Lambie, with the nous and poise of seasoned international. Elsewhere, the Bulls and Crusaders prospered, in two pretty cagey matches, not anything like the feast of running rugby that is supposed to be the hallmark of Super Rugby. The Bulls still look like they are the only SA side that could go all the way.

Man of the match for creative beard wearing has to go to Lion Josh Strauss

Junior World Championships

Argentina 8-34 Wales

Australia 54-7 Tonga

England 33-25 Ireland

Italy 7-64 New Zealand

South Africa 33-0 Scotland

France 24-12 Fiji

Super Rugby

Saturday , June 11

Crusaders 23 - 16 Blues

Waratahs 33 - 7 Highlanders

Lions 30 - 30 Sharks

Stormers 16 - 19 Bulls

Western Force 21 - 24 Reds

Friday , June 10

Chiefs 18 - 18 Hurricanes

Brumbies 32 - 17 Melbourne Rebels

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Heineken Cup Draw, New RaboDirect PRO12 suppositories launched, and Sharks take on the Lions

Please grease before insertion

This is how the groups panned out this year in the Heineken Cup draw. Leinster are sitting pretty in the pool of life (with all due respect to Bath, Glasgow, Montpellier) and should get into the next round no problem. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out – last year they had to beat Clermont, Racing and the Saracens to get out of the group and they were so bullet proof after that nothing was going to scare them. Maybe easier matches make you lose your focus – we’ll see. Munster have a medium sized mountain to climb out of their groups, Saints are their big threat, and Scarlets and Castres away are going to be tricky fixtures. Ulster have it tough, with the Tigers and Clermont to overcome- it’s going to be difficult to make it into the last eight two years in a row for them. Finally Connacht have their work cut out, but it’s certainly going to add a lot of glamour to their Galway ground to be entertaining the likes of Toulouse.

I’d fancy London Irish to make it out of their group as well.

Bit of a puzzle though – these are by no means the 24 best teams in Europe. How do Aironi sneak in there with a grand total of two wins last season, one in the Heineken and one in the Magners? Is a re-jig of the Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cups not in order?

Did somebody say Leinster? Here's the BOD in legendary form from the Magners Final:

Heineken Cup Pools for 2011/12

Pool 1: Munster, Northampton, Scarlets, Castres
Pool 2: Cardiff Blues, London Irish, Edinburgh, Racing-Metro

Pool 3: Leinster, Bath, Glasgow, Montpellier

Pool 4: Leicester, Clermont, Ulster, Aironi

Pool 5: Biarritz, Ospreys, Saracens, Treviso

Pool 6: Toulouse, Harlequins, Gloucester, Connacht

Magners League now RaboDirect PRO12

Suppository makers everywhere will be cursing their luck as rugby steals all the good names. RaboDirect PRO12. Maybe it will grow on us. Like a fungus. Good to see there are still companies and money willing to back rugby though.

Shark Bite

The Sharks need to keep their heads this week – while the Lions’ tag of ‘Worst team in Super Rugby…Ever!’ is normally theirs and theirs alone, they have put some half decent performances in recent weeks. And the SA teams normally reserve their real venom for each other. Hard to see the Sharks losing though. Elsewhere, Blues and Crusaders and Stormers and Bulls are two top six match ups that should go down to the wire.

IRB Junior World Championship

This kicks off in Italy tonight. Ireland are in a pretty tough group, with England and SA to best. They play England tonight, and I know the Queen's been to visit, and we're all friends now, but...we still want to kick your arses in rugby! There are some very bright sparks in this Irish side, Rhys Ruddock, Craig Gilroy and Luke Marshall in particular. Of interest and a bit of a concern is that there no Munstermen in the starting 15. I don't know any of the English players, but have to go green and back Ireland.

 IRELAND U-20: Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster); Andrew Conway (Blackrock/Leinster), Brendan Macken (Blackrock/Leinster), Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster), Andrew Boyle (UCD/Leinster); Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster), Kieran Marmion (UWIC/Exile); James Tracy (UCD/Leinster), Niall Annett (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) (capt), Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Michael Kearney (Clontarf/Leinster), Iain Henderson (Queen's University/Ulster), Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Dominic Gallagher (Dublin University/Ulster), Eoin McKeon (Galwegians/Connacht).

Replacements: David Doyle (UCD/Leinster), Conor Carey (Ballymena/Ulster), Daniel Qualter (Buccaneers/Connacht), Shane Buckley (Garryowen/Munster), Peter du Toit (UCD/Leinster), James McKinney (Queen's University/Ulster), JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster).

ENGLAND U-20: Ben Ransom (Saracens); Andy Short (Worcester Warriors), Elliot Daly (London Wasps), Ryan Mills (Gloucester), Jonathan Joseph (London Irish); George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Chris Cook (Bath); Mako Vunipola (Bristol), Mike Haywood (Northampton Saints), Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Charlie Matthews (Harlequins), Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors), Matt Everard (Leicester Tigers), Alex Gray (Newcastle Falcons) (capt).

Replacements: Rob Buchanan (Harlequins), Ryan Bower (Leicester Tigers), Sam Twomey (Harlequins), Sam Jones (London Wasps), Dan Robson (Gloucester), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Marland Yarde (London Irish).

Pool A



New Zealand


Pool B





Pool C




South Africa

Super Rugby

Friday , June 10

Chiefs vs Hurricanes 19:35

Brumbies vs Melbourne Rebels 19:40

Saturday , June 11

Crusaders vs Blues 19:35

Waratahs vs Highlanders 19:40

Western Force vs Reds 20:05

Lions vs Sharks 16:05

Stormers vs Bulls 18:10

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Barbarians take out Wales in the final minutes

Gavin Henson picture from:

So in fairness it’s not much of a rugby review this weekend as all I caught was the extended highlights of the Wales/Barbarians match, and that was in Welsh. And to say the least, my Welsh is um, non existent. But rugby is an international language and there was lots to appreciate in this match. Hats off to Wales for picking new faces, even some orange faces (Henson take a bow), running the ball and taking the attacking line outs. It didn’t quite come off in terms of the result, but if you can’t take some chances and entertain the crowds once in a while, we may as well all pack up and go home. I thought Jonathan Davies had an awesome match, he looks fast and sharp. George North took his try well, and the forwards showed they can grind out the trys if they need to.

This was a super Barbarians side, all the more amazing for the fact that apart from Parisse, Nacewa and Rabeni, none of these players are in contention for their national sides. Seru Rabeni welcomed Gavin Henson back to international rugby – hi Gav, why are you lying down Gav? The touch of class that proved the difference between the sides was (drumroll) Isa Nacewa, who’s been in devastating form for Leinster all season, scooping up the ball in one hand, evading several tackles and running ¾ of the pitch to score the winning try.

Shark Bite

Yes! The Sharks continue their good run chomping the Cheetahs away from home. With two rounds left to play they are looking good.

Saturday , June 4

Wales 28 - 31 Barbarians

Super Rugby

Hurricanes 38 - 27 Lions

Blues 11 - 16 Chiefs

Reds 14 - 22 Brumbies

Cheetahs 18 - 23 Sharks

Friday , June 3

Highlanders 14 - 21 Western Force

Melbourne Rebels 3 - 40 Stormers

Bulls 23 - 17 Waratahs

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Barbarians take on Wales and Sharks in Super Rugby

Freddie Michalak Picture from

Now the regular season is over, a bit of housekeeping to take care of. First of all, reintroduce myself to my wife and kids and shower them with rare gifts unheard of in their lifetime (the remote control). But let’s not get too carried away as we still have a decent Barbarians match to look forward to, and Super Rugby is still ticking away.

I really like the look of this Barbarians match, this looks like it could be the real deal unlike the Baa Baa’s/England lite/Saxons effort last weekend – which in fairness was a pretty entertaining affair. This match looks more like an even contest. I’m interested to see Gav playing for Wales – is the WRU trying to launch a reality TV show maybe? Could also be in for his rugby ability, you never know. It’s a good looking Barbarians side, and one match played, one won and with continuity in selection this is definitely going on the Sky +.

Wales: 15 Morgan Stoddart, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Gavin Henson, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (capt), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Ryan Jones, 3 Paul James, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Nathan Bevington.

Replacements: 16 Lloyd Burns, 17 Scott Andrews, 18 Alun-Wyn Jones, 19 Josh Turnbull, 20 Tavis Knoyle, 21 Rhys Priestland, 22 Nathan Williams.

Barbarians: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Seru Rabeni, 12 Mathieu Bastareaud, 11 Doug Howlett, 10 Brock James, 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Sergio Parisse (capt), 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Joe van Niekerk, 5 Paul Tito, 4 Iosefa Tekori, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Sebastien Bruno, 1 Iestyn Thomas.

Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Davit Kubriashvili, 18 Erik Lund, 19 George Smith, 20 Lloyd Williams, 21 Willie Mason, 22 Benoit Baby.

Shark Bite

This is a derby for the Sharks with the Cheetahs. South African derbies are an acquired taste, like biltong or borewors . This is going to be umpteen kgs of good South African beef involved in high speed collisions, with a generous body count. The Cheetahs are on a roll, so not sure how the Sharks are going to do, especially in Bloem. But hey, got to back your team, so Sharks by three – as long as they remember to play both halves. Looking forward to seeing how Michalak slots in there – I’d love to see him at scrum half with Lambie at fly half.

International Match

Saturday , June 4

Wales vs Barbarians 14:30

Super Rugby

Friday , June 3

Highlanders vs Western Force 19:35

Melbourne Rebels vs Stormers 19:40

Bulls vs Waratahs 19:10

Saturday , June 4

Hurricanes vs Lions 17:30

Blues vs Chiefs 19:35

Reds vs Brumbies 19:40

Cheetahs vs Sharks 17:05