Inspired by Augustine Pulu’s goal post antics this weekend, Jamie Wall counts down his favourite moments of rugby cheating.
One of the good parts about the Mitre 10 Cup, aside from the often frivolous attempts at defence, is the opportunity for a lot of players to try new things. Counties-Manukau’s Augustine Pulu certainly got in on the act against Bay of Plenty, with this memorable way of stopping play and opposition momentum.
It truly was an inspired act of gamesmanship. There’s no specific rule against demolishing the goal post, at least not yet, but it left the referee with no choice but to stop play and order a scrum for safety’s sake.
While Pulu’s antics didn’t stop BOP from scoring on the next play, it definitely deserves a spot in the pantheon of great moments in rugby cheating – and rest easy Aaron Smith, this is only for on-field indiscretions.
1. Who throws a shoe? Honestly?
Serial pest and permanent fake tan owner Nick Phipps found himself in possession of Malaki Fekitoa’s boot in a Bledisloe Cup test at Westpac Stadium, so did the grubbiest thing possible and hurled it 20 rows into the stands. It didn’t help his Wallaby side as they went down 29-9, but it wasn’t out of character at all for Phipps given that he also once dropped his shoulder on an Argentine physio running off the field.
2. Hail to the King
Richie McCaw, long reviled by non-New Zealanders as the greatest cheat to ever enter a ruck sideways, saved his best act of rule breaking for a crucial moment against the Wallabies. Down 22-9 with 15 minutes to go, the skipper switched to the blindside of the scrum and then detached before the ball was out – giving him an acre of space on winger James O’Connor when Kieran Read passes him the ball. Some regard McCaw as an immortal, which is just as well because this try defies physical logic if it somehow doesn’t break any laws.
3. The world’s worst Hollywood
Simaika Mikaele isn’t a household name in the rugby world, but he brought the local Samoan sevens scene to the attention of the world with this woefully hilarious episode. After receiving little more than a tap to the cheek, his cowardly flop to the ground brought forth howls of laughter from not only the crowd, but the opposition, his own team and even the referee. Instead of penalising him for bringing the tough game of rugby into disrepute, the man with the whistle simply let him off with a pat on the back.
4. They’re still talking about this one in Wales
Yes, the Andy Haden lineout dive has been done to death, but it’s worth another look these days to just really get a feel of how doubly cynical it really was. The All Black lock’s journey to the ground is about as believable as a Donald Trump election promise, but if you look closely you can see Frank Oliver doing more or less the same thing. Their combined floppery certainly fooled the ref, who awarded the game winning penalty to the All Blacks.
5. Rugby’s slimiest man
French fullback Yoann Huget has made the news for stamping on the face of an opponent and then pretending to be concerned about his wellbeing, and also getting used as a speed bump by Rene Ranger at Eden Park. However, his most shithouse act would have to be this effort for Toulouse against Bath that could’ve scored him a contract for any Premier League Football club.