Sunday Social: Controversy, fancy footwork and 300

Date published: June 6 2021

It is time for Planet Rugby’s Sunday Social, your quirky recap of the serious and not so serious talking points from the past week’s action.

We begin at Welford Road where there was a controversial ending to Leicester’s 26-23 Premiership defeat to Bristol, with the respective head coaches Steve Borthwick and Pat Lam getting involved in a heated debate over John Afoa’s reintroduction into the game after he was taken off earlier on.

Borthwick was clearly frustrated when asked for his opinion on the matter in the post-match interview.

There was plenty of reaction to that incident with former Tigers fly-half Freddie Burns doing his best to explain what went through Lam’s mind before making that change.

The match was Richard Wigglesworth 300th Premiership appearance, which in an unbelievable feat that in all likelihood is going to be very tough to beat.

Ahead of that game, there was huge excitement from opposing scrum-half Harry Randall, who was returning for his first Premiership start since January after being sidelined with an ankle injury.

Meanwhile, in South Africa there was great interest in the Springbok squad which was announced for their upcoming Test series against the British and Irish Lions as well as internationals against Georgia.

As expected, the Boks kept faith with most of the players who did duty during the 2019 Rugby World Cup – 29 of them were selected – but there were some shock omissions with the Bulls’ Marcell Coetzee and Cornal Hendricks notable absentees and SA Rugby’s director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, was left to explain the experienced duo’s absence.

Although he was named in the squad, the Boks’ management will be sweating over the fitness of veteran number eight Duane Vermeulen, who sustained an injury in the Bulls’ Rainbow Cup SA clash with the Stormers in Pretoria on Friday.

Elsewhere, in New Zealand, Western Force wing Toni Pulu bamboozled Crusaders full-back Will Jordan with this outrageous side-step in their Super Rugby Trans-Tasman encounter. Fantastic footwork!

Staying Down Under, where the Brumbies sealed only the second victory by an Australian team against Kiwi opposition in that tournament when they claimed a narrow 12-10 win over the Hurricanes in Canberra on Saturday. However, they were somewhat lucky after Jordie Barrett failed to slot this penalty which was the final act of the match.

Elsewhere, Rebels fly-half Carter Gordon left his stamp on the match with this great offload in the build-up to Stacey Ili’s try in their loss to the Chiefs in Sydney on Sunday.

Finally, we head to the United States where Atlanta outside centre Mark O’Keeffe produced this brilliant try-saving tackle in Major League Rugby.