Oval Talk

  • Japan player fails spectacularly with ‘swan dive’ gaffe

    Coaches absolutely hate it when players show off, particularly when a try is theirs for the taking.

    So it is very unlikely that Japan's Kosuke Hashino got away with this humiliating failed 'swan dive' as he cruised over for what should have been a simple try.

    Made famous by England winger Chris Ashton, the showboat celebration of a try is controversial in that everyone has been waiting for someone to cock it up.

    Indeed, coaches have reportedly pleaded with Ashton to do away with the celebration time and again with the back ignoring their attempts to halt his showmanship.

    As a remarkably

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  • New Zealand stars Israel Dagg (left) and Cory Jane

    New Zealand Rugby Union chief Steve Tew has denied accusations of a 'cover-up' after revealing that All Blacks backs Cory Jane and Israel Dagg had misused sleeping pills in a "silly" competition ahead of the quarter-final against Argentina.

    Tew has revealed that Jane and Dagg, who were disciplined for drinking at the 2011 World Cup, had used sleeping pills on their big night out - with the pair said to have challenged each other to see who could stay awake the longest having taken the pills.

    "At the time we struggled to understand how taking a sleeping pill could keep you up late at night and

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  • More than a sports star: Why O’Driscoll’s so well loved

    They say a picture speaks a thousand words and in the case of Brian O'Driscoll, thousands upon thousands have been written about the Irish rugby star this weekend alone, after he helped Ireland win the Six Nations trophy in his final match.

    However, the above photo perhaps illustrates better than any essay the type of joy he brought to a nation during his world record-breaking 15-year career in an Irish shirt.

    The picture was actually taken in 2011 during a visit by then Heineken Cup champions Leinster to Temple Street Children's Hospital, but has gone viral again in the wake of O'Driscoll's

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  • 20 minutes of madness that cost England the Grand Slam

    The moment England lost in Paris to get off to a losing start in the 2014 Six Nations

    With the dust having long since settled in Rome, Cardiff and Paris, England boss Stuart Lancaster took time on Sunday morning to look back with pride on England's 2014 Six Nations - but was left ruing the first quarter of the championship opener in Paris that cost his team so dear.

    The morning after Ireland sent Brian O'Driscoll into international retirement with a Six Nations title to cherish following a night of high drama at the Stade de France, Lancaster was left pondering the fine margins of success and failure.

    A first Grand Slam since 2003 would have decorated his third Championship as

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  • O’Driscoll’s last tango in Paris ensures golden retirement

    More than an hour after clinching his second Six Nations title, Brian O'Driscoll still wore his green jersey as the iconic Ireland centre tried to milk every moment back at the venue where his love affair with the championship really started.

    "I can't have it all but it's the best you get, it has been a fantastic Six Nations for us," O'Driscoll told a news conference following his last match for his country, a 22-20 victory over France that secured the title on points difference from England.

    "I don't want to take this jersey off yet."

    In an Ireland career spanning 15 years, O'Driscoll played

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  • Impressive England accelerating on upward curve

    England's failure to rack up 50-point winning margin on Saturday should not be allowed to overshadow a superb performance that capped a hugely encouraging Six Nations championship - despite Ireland being crowned champions.

    England have played some sumptuous rugby throughout the campaign and showed the same sense of style and attacking intent in their 52-11 thumping of Italy.

    They came into the game knowing that Ireland's +81 points difference could well be decisive in the destination of the championship, and blew away a resolute Italy defence with some slick passing and powerful forward play.

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  • Scotland star’s horrendous challenge will sadly be remembered

    To some uneducated sports fans there is a belief that anything goes in rugby; that it's a sport where rules are there to ensure that it remains lawless.

    However, this incident is likely to make you think again.

    Stuart Hogg is arguably Scotland's best player but his skills on the field were far from evident as he barged into Wales' Dan Biggar with a horrible late challenge.

    The more replays were shown the more cynical and sickening it looked with Hogg swiftly scampering away as though nothing had happened.

    Initially he was shown the yellow card, but sensational scenes ensued as official Jerome

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  • O’Driscoll looks to end on a high back where it all began

    March 19, 2000: the day everything changed for Irish rugby.

    The day every fan remembers exactly where they were.

    Before travelling to France on that sunny spring afternoon seeking a first win in Paris in 28 years, Ireland had become near-perennial northern hemisphere whipping boys, finishing off a miserable decade with a humiliating early World Cup exit.

    Then Brian O'Driscoll scored one of the most famous hat-tricks in world rugby, and 14 years on, despite failing to record another win in France, Ireland are near-perennial Six Nations contenders with provinces that dominate the club game.

    On

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  • Rugby stars in video tribute to O’Driscoll ahead of last game

    Some of the Six Nations' top stars have got together and made a tribute video for Brian O'Driscoll ahead of his last game.

    It is easy to get cynical about these orchestrated PR campaigns (which this is, for adidas) but there does seem to be genuine sincerity from the entire rugby community in wishing the Ireland legend the best in his retirement.

    Iconic centre O'Driscoll will retire from international rugby after his 141st Test cap against France on Saturday.

    O'Driscoll has set a new Test appearance world record, and will extend his record Six Nations caps tally to 65 to boot in Paris.

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  • On this day in 1948: Ireland win their first Grand Slam

    Ireland won their first ever Five Nations Championship rugby Grand Slam on this day in 1948 after beating Wales 6-3 in their final game in Belfast.

    Left wing Barney Mullan and prop Jack Daly each scored tries to secure their fourth victory in the tournament and beat all of its participants.

    Daly, who scored in the final minutes after Wales’s brilliant centre Bleddyn Williams equalised, was later carried shoulder-high by jubilant fans, who also stole his shirt.

    It would be his final match for Ireland after the charismatic player, who performed double back somersaults before games, switched to

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