The All Blacks have become the first team in the professional era to go unbeaten in a calendar year after a dramatic comeback 24-22 win over Ireland. It was the Irish that went on the attack first and held a 19-0 lead at one point.
Even after Julian Savea scored to narrow the gap the Irish looked in charge. But the All Blacks were simply too good. Ben Franks narrowed the lead and the Ryan Crotty scored the tying try off a great pass from Dane Coles. The match nearly finished in a draw after Aaron Cruden missed the conversion but Ireland were judged to have charged early, allowing Cruden to make his second attempt. It was the best match of the year and easily befitting a strong New Zealand team.
Eagles Win But Fans Can’t Watch
The Eagles picked up their first win streak since 2009 after beating Russia in London 28-7. Chris Wyles, who has playing at his home ground in Allianz Park, Samu Manoa, and Cam Dolan all scored. Unfortunately only those in the stands (which there weren’t many) were able to see the match live. With less than 24 hours to go before the match news came down that it would be webstreamed. U.S.A. Rugby subsequently apologized but not before many fans vented on social media.
South Africa were often overshadowed by New Zealand this fall but they too have had an excellent fall. They beat France 19-10 to stay unbeaten in November. Scotland continues to struggle. They lost to Australia 21-15 on the back of Israel Folau. In other scores Wales beat Tonga 17-7 and Argentina topped Italy 19-14. The biggest shocker of the weekend came in Georgia where the home team upset Samoa 16-15.
Arkansas State Wins College 7s Title
Arkansas State have repeated as College 7s National Champions. They tore through last weekend’s tournament going unbeaten and beating St. Mary’s in the final 32-12. To reach the final they beat Air Force in the Cup quarterfinals and then Dartmouth in the Cup semi-finals. Dylan Carrion was named MVP of the tournament but the Red Wolves were led by a number of players. Last year’s runners-up, Life, crashed out in the quarterfinals but rebounded to take the Plate. Arizona State won the Bowl while South Carolina won the Shield. On the women’s side, Norwich continued their dominance with yet another win.
European Club Play Resumes
Internationals may have still be going on but with only so many weeks to fit in full seasons play resumed in the Aviva Premiership, Top 14, and RaboDirect Pro12. By and large things picked up where they left off. Premiership leaders Saracens earned a win while Toulon and Clermont did the same to share the lead at the top of the Top 14. Munster are leading the RaboDirect Pro12. Things will get heated over the next few weeks as teams look to create separate before the new year.