Oval Talk

  • Refereeing takes a step forward

    This week has seen a monumental decision
    which has the potential to transform rugby in the northern hemisphere.

    No, it isn't Mike Tindall's £25,000 fine
    and ban from the England
    set up. Nor is it Wales'
    refusal to allow some of their top stars play for the Barbarians against England later
    this month.

    It is in fact how the Aviva Premiership could
    become the first league north of the equator to trial the extended use of
    Television Match Officials. The International Rugby Board want to have two
    leagues - one in the north and one in the south - to test the new rules.

    The trial will see referees

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  • How can Andrew be allowed to rule on England malaise?

    After last week's RFU board meeting the acting chief
    executive Martyn Thomas was shown the door - and, in Oval Talk's opinion, about
    time too.

    But the Twickenham exodus should not stop there as the
    Professional Game Board carries out its review on England's elite game and in
    particular the senior team's performance at the World Cup.

    What sets off a few alarm bells, though, is that Rob
    Andrew, the RFU's operations director - formerly known as the director of elite
    rugby - will be managing the review.

    How can the man who has run the show for the last five
    years be the one who has to highlight

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  • Why RFU dithering will cost England the 2015 World Cup

    So, the World Cup is over and the biggest
    issue back on this isle, whether we like it or not, is the turmoil in the RFU.

    Before the two-month rugby bonanza the RFU
    was in a complete mess without a permanent chairman, without a permanent chief
    executive and still searching for their first performance director.

    All tha was temporarily forgotten while the
    spotlight was on the tournament in New Zealand, but fast forward a few weeks
    and nothing has changed at Twickenham.

    Actually, that's not quite true. Things
    have got slightly worse because, after England's farcical tournament both on
    and off the

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  • Team of the tournament

    Here is our elite team after seven weeks of the 2011 World Cup:

    15. Israel Dagg — New Zealand
    Dagg has been the number one fullback at this World Cup since he scored the very first try of the tournament in against Tonga. His performance against Australia was exceptional and he made the angled run which set up Ma'a Nonu for the decisive try. And at just 23 years of age Dagg has the potential to become one of the best fullbacks of all time.

    14. Vincent Clerc - France
    Clerc shows you do not need to be built like George North to be a successful winger in the modern game. He scored an emphatic
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  • Zinzan Brooke: All Blacks for glory

    Oval Talk caught up with former All
    Blacks legend Zinzan Brooke ahead of the World Cup final against France in
    Auckland to find out who he thinks will lift the Webb Ellis Trophy on Sunday.

    "We've been here before against France
    in a must-win game but I think the All Blacks will do it," said Brooke, who was capped 58 times by New Zealand.

    "They are certainly good enough and, throughout
    this World Cup, they have consistently shown the intensity they will need to
    win this game.

    "All the preparation has been done now
    and the training camp was obviously good; you can see that with the way New

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  • Dan who? A tale of two fly-halves

    Eight days ago New Zealand was a country
    practically in mourning when the news broke that Dan Carter had been ruled out
    of the World Cup with a groin injury.

    Fast forward just over a week and few
    would have predicted that the All Blacks would have all but kicked themselves
    into the semi-finals.

    Sure, they scored two late tries to confirm
    the victory, but it was the seven penalties from the boot of Piri Weepu that
    really secured victory against Argentina.

    Oval Talk wouldn't be rash enough to
    suggest that the All Blalcks didn't miss Carter against Los Pumas but maybe it's
    not the national

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  • Irate Bok fans prank call wrong man

    South Africa fans blaming referee Bryce
    Lawrence for the Springboks' quarter-final exit from the World Cup have taken to
    prank calling the New Zealand referee.

    The irate fans - who straight after the game started an online group on Facebook called 'Petition To Stop Bryce Lawrence Ever Reffing
    A Rugby Game Again' - have been bombarding an Auckland
    number with calls for the past couple of days.

    But it turns out they have been phoning
    the wrong man.

    The man receiving the calls told New
    Zealand newspaper the NZ Herald that his phone has been ringing since his number
    was posted online in the

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  • Team of the quarter-finals

    Here is our elite team from the World Cup quarter-finals:

    15. Maxime Medard — France
    He was one of the few players to emerge from France's indifferent pool stage with any recognition. He played well against England and showed what a class act he is and capped off his performance with a try.

    14. Cory Jane — New Zealand
    The winger put in a standout performance against Argentina and put his off-field shenanigans behind him. He made two clear line breaks and caused problems for the Pumas throughout. It was good to see Jane making the headlines for the right reasons.

    13. Manu Tuilagi - England

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  • Team of the Week: Tonga party

    Here is our elite team for the final round of World Cup group stage matches:

    15. Ben Foden — England
    The Northampton Saints fullback made a match-saving tackle on Scotland's Simon Danielli. It was a vital block as the try might not have only cost England the game but also their place at the World Cup. He was part of a superb back three who defended very well.

    14. George North — Wales
    He might have played on the other wing against Fiji but OT just had to fit him into the team. What a player he is; immense in both attack and defence. He marked his opposite number Albert Vulivuli out of the

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  • Fans fundraise to pay Samoa fine

    Fans outraged by an IRB fine handed to Samoa's
    Alesana Tuilagi have been giving the Leicester Tigers prop a helping hand to
    pay the sanction.

    As if the IRB didn't have enough to deal with, with
    major southern hemisphere nations threatening to boycott the next World Cup in
    five years time, they have now also come under fire for the fine handed down to
    Tuilagi.

    Coming just days after England were only slapped on
    the wrists for breaching IRB rules during the clash against Romania, the Samoan
    winger was fined NZ$10,000 (£5000) for wearing a branded mouth-guard
    during the Fiji clash that was not in

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