Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Amazing Aviva Premiership Final

The last weekend was full of exciting rugby games. On Saturday, for the first time in the history, Harlequins won the Premiership Final, defeating Leicester Tigers 30:23. On Sunday, Ospreys team defeated the Heineken Cup champions Leinster 31:30. For dessert, England played with Barbarians and won 57:26. Chris Ashton reminded us of this great talent as he managed to score a hat-trick of tries.

I had the pleasure of watching the Premiership Final live at Twickenham as one of the 81 799 fans. The atmosphere was amazing. On the way to the game you could feel the excitement among the supporters heading for this great event. At first only a few ruby shirts could be spotted on the tube but this number increased incredibly as I got closer to the stadium.

As usual, all tickets for the Final were sold out. This time we could enjoy great weather which encouraged fast game and even better fun on the stands. The atmosphere at rugby games and especially at high profile events is incredible. The fans of both teams sit next to each other, cheering their idols and at the same time respect their rivals. Entire families dressed in team colours, omnipresent flags, painted faces and emotions is more than enough for one game. Also, from time to time you could spot neutral shirts of other Premiership teams which added more to the atmosphere. All of it plus a decent rugby game make an amazing event which stays in your memory for many years. I would highly recommend taking part in such spectacle to everyone who has not got the chance to see one yet.

Below are a few photos from the Final.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Leinster European Champion!

Leinster have won their third Heineken Cup trophy in the last four seasons. In the finals, they confidently defeated Irish rivals - Ulster 42:14. It was the biggest victory in the Heineken Cup finals ever. After the game, one of the most experienced Irish players - Brian O'Driscol was very pleased with the outcome. He said that Leinster in its current shape is planning to establish a long term dynasty on the European arena. So far, everything is going according to the plan, however, the time co celebrate the victory is short. Next Sunday (27.05.12) Leinster is playing in another final. This time they are facing Ospreys in RaboDirect Pro12. If Jospef Schmidt's team wins this tournament it will be the historical achievment.Winning both Heineken Cup and Celtic League in the same season has never happened to any Irish team.
Good luck!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

IRB law amendments

A few days ago IRB officially announced trial amendments to the rugby rules. The changes are aimed to speed up the game. The most interesting ideas proposed by IRB are: 
90 seconds time limit for convertion attempts. 
Amount of time that a ball can be held at the back of the ruck will be restricted to 5 seconds - referee will warn the team to "use it".

Minor changes will occur to lineouts, however, the most crucial proposal is about increasing the power of television match officials. TMO will be called to help to make a decision not only about the act of scoring a try but also will be able to offer input on incidents within the field of play that have led to the scoring of a try, and foul play. The changes come live this autumn. 

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Sale Sharks' farewell to Edgeley Park

Today was Sale Sharks' last game at Edgeley Park. 10 149 fans watched the clash with table leaders - Harlequins. From the very first minutes of the match, it was clear that the hosts are well motivated. They showed a lot of spirit and even managed to cross the rivals' try line in the initial stage of the game, unfortunately the try was not awarded. During the first half of the game the more experienced visitors took the lead. They were leading 3:15 at half time. At the beginning of the second half, Sharks took advantage of playing with one extra man (Nick Evans was sin-binned), and Will Addison scored a fantastic try - in my opinion one of the most spectacular tries in this year’s Aviva Premiership season. Despite the efforts, Sale couldn't break Harlequins' solid defense and visitors took a deserved win 10:24.

All spectators were certainly happy with Sale Sharks' performance today. Especially after hearing the news from the Welford Road where Leicester Tigers comfortably beat Bath. This means that Sale finished the season at the 6th place so Heineken Cup is back in Manchester. Next season games will be played at the new stadium - especially designed for rugby, so I’m very pleased that in addition to the league games we will also be able to see European elite there.

I had the opportunity to watch many games at Edgeley Park, so as the farewell to the stadium I've picked a handful of statistics and I've chosen three the most unforgettable memories to me.

Sale Sharks played 141 matches - won 97, drew 4 and lost 40. They scored 3646 points, and conceded 2339. Over 1 100 000 tickets have been sold until today. The record point scorer is Charlie Hodgson - 1031, Mark Cueto scored 88 tries.

1. Jason Robinson's farewell match against Bath. The last seconds of the match, after amazing run through almost half the pitch, Robinson scored the winning try, setting the match result at 25:23.
2. 2009 Heineken Cup game, after a dramatic match Sharks defeated Cardiff Blues 27:26.
3. Big surprise at the beginning of the 2009 season - a victory over the champions Leicester Tigers 15:12. Before the match bookmakers were predicting big win for the visitors, by 40-50 points’ difference.

Below are some photos from today's game: