Oval Talk

  • Australia braced for gladiatorial Argentina test

    Australia coach Ewen McKenzie will need the best from his 15 gladiators when they step into what he called a 'coliseum atmosphere' in Rosario for Saturday's Rugby Championship match against Argentina.

    "Everyone talks about the coliseum atmosphere and the noise in Rosario. It's amazing but also daunting and you need to be able to function in that space," McKenzie said after naming his team on Thursday.

    The Wallabies, who beat the Pumas 14-13 in Perth three weeks ago, aim to avoid the wooden spoon against an Argentina team who appear to be edging closer to their first victory in the elite

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  • Saints man Burrell a candidate to replace Tuilagi

    Manu Tuilagi's injury provides Luther Burrell with the chance to make a play for the England No13 shirt during the autumn internationals - if given a chance by Stuart Lancaster.

    Read the full post by Kieran Beckles of Yahoo! Contributor Network.

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  • Team shoot player with BB gun for showing up late

    How does your work deal with people showing up late? Is it a verbal dressing-down from the boss? Perhaps a small fine? Some offices make those with poor timekeeping buy doughnuts or other pastries for the rest of the team.

    Regardless of how you might be punished for being late, just be grateful your firm does not use the same strategy as French rugby side Toulon.

    Australian star Matt Giteau has posted a video via Instagram of what happened to him when he missed the cut-off point for training: being lined up with his back exposed and having a ball-bearing gun fired at him.

    That’s right:

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  • Joost van der Westhuizen

    He is lauded by some as possibly the greatest scrum-half of all time, but South Africa legend Joost van der Westhuizen admits he spends every day "on his deathbed" as motor neurone disease ravages his body.

    The 42-year-old will be remembered by many for this iconic tackle on New Zealand man-mountain Jonah Lomu during the 1995 World Cup final victory that marked the Springboks' return to world sport.

    An unusually-physical player for a scrum-half, Van der Westhuizen's clever reading of the game and no-holds-barred defence meant he was the best player in his position of the era, and possibly

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  • Crooked start for new scrum laws

    Rugby's new scrum law could simply see the crooked feed replace the collapse as the source of contention and penalties, if the first outings at test level in the Rugby Championship on Saturday were anything to go by.

    The International Rugby Board (IRB) introduced the law with the aim of making the game safer for front row forwards and are hoping for fewer scrum re-sets and the resultant, often apparently arbitrary, penalties.

    The law requires the front rows to be engaged and the scrum steady before the ball is put in, removing the "big hit" of the packs coming together and promising a more

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  • Can Northampton captain Dylan Hartley change?

    Dylan Hartley needs to prove he is ready to turn over a new leaf through his actions - not words - after it was confirmed he will retain the Northampton Saints captaincy for the 2013/14 campaign.

    Read the full post by Kieran Beckles of Yahoo! Contributor Network.

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  • Cunning sponsorship deals allow BT Sport to advertise on Sky

    BT Sport has found a way past Sky Sports' ban on screening rival broadcaster's adverts by signing a four-year sponsorship deal with two of the rugby teams Sky will televise this season.

    Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby have agreed a "substantial multi-million pound" deal that will see both clubs sport BT's logo on their shirts.

    The Scottish sides complete in the RaboDirect Pro12 and Heineken Cup, competitions which are to be screened live next year by Sky.

    The announcement of the deal follows an Ofcom ruling last month which rejected BT's complaints over Sky's refusal to promote its new

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  • Sam Warburton has been dealt a cruel blow after Cardiff Blues confirmed the triumphant British and Irish Lions captain won't play until October - so can Ryan Jones and Justin Tipuric finally move ahead of their skipper in the pecking order?

    The Wales international had to overcome fitness problems to make his return to competitive action in time to force his way into Warren Gatland's starting line-up for the first Test against Australia last month.

    The Lions flanker featured in the Brisbane and Melbourne successes before suffering a hamstring injury with 13 minutes remaining in the second Test

    Read More »from Sam Warburton’s injury woe hands initiative to his Wales rivals
  • Armand Vaquerin in action for France against Scotland in 1980 (Imago/Colorsport)

    Twenty years ago on Wednesday, France was rocked by the extraordinary and horrifying death of one of the nation's greatest ever rugby players.

    Armand Vaquerin is the most decorated player in French rugby history. He is the only man to have taken part in all 10 of Beziers' French rugby championship victories between 1971 and 1984 (as well as being on the losing side in the final in 1976) and was a regular for Les Bleus.

    The word "legend" is bandied around all too frequently when talking about sportsmen, but in the case of Armand Vaquerin that is exactly what we're talking about. A monstrous

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  • Tour de force gives Lions institution continued meaning

    Many of us who give the British and Irish Lions little thought during the four years between series celebrated Saturday’s victory chiefly due to the humbling of Australia, which to scarred fans of a certain age will never get old.

    For others, the success of the tour gave continued validation to the Lions concept being part of their very sporting fabric.

    Take my lifelong family friend, Vince Aleman, who this year was among the thousands who followed the tour for the first time.

    “Following the Lions was never considered a realistic possibility for the vast majority of Welsh rugby fans growing up

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