Take a look at a few of rugby’s long-standing and budding rivalries between individual players at franchise and international levels.
Sport in general is littered with some of the most intense, bitter and heated rivalries known to mankind. Sometimes they’re friendly but other times they’re not.
Rugby, in particular, is known for its team rivalries. Think Springboks vs All Blacks, Vodacom Bulls vs Stormers, Munster vs Leinster and Crusaders vs Hurricanes – to name just a few.
But according to a compilation by leading rugby website Ruck.co.uk, these are some of the game’s standout individual feuds.
1. Marcus Smith & Louis Rees-Zammit
Louis Rees-Zammit has claimed Marcus Smith “chats so much s**t” on the pitch.
The two plays against each other at club and Test levels with Rees-Zammit turning out for English club Gloucester and for Wales, while Smith represents Harlequins and England.
Zammit revealed the England playmaker is someone who winds him up on the pitch, saying: “Marcus Smith, I remember the last time I played against him, he proper went in for me.
“He shoved my head in the ground. He was doing all sorts to me. I kind of laughed at it and carried on with my game.”
He laughed: “Marcus Smith chats so much s**t on the pitch. It’s unbelievable. It’s weird. It’s a good little rivalry.”
These youngsters were also teammates on the British & Irish Lions’ recent tour of South Africa.
2. James Haskell & Neil Back
Haskell was caught in an online row with World Cup-winner Neil Back. The spat began when Haskell retweeted an official post from the England Rugby account, in which Haskell calls upon the Manchester crowd to get behind the team after they had already been knocked out of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Back responded with a scathing tweet, criticising Haskell for his part in England’s premature demise and it set off an unpleasant exchange between the two former England Test players.
— Neil Back MBE (@NeilBack) October 7, 2015
3. Alun Wyn Jones vs Kyle Sinckler
Despite clashing on more than one occasion for club and country, the pair – who both played for the British & Irish Lions – are actually good friends.
Jones wrote in his recent book: “Kyle Sinckler is good fun, a connection between us in Adam Jones, the tighthead ahead of me for Ospreys and Wales for so long, a coach for him in his formative years, was a good icebreaker.
“I’d like to think we get on. I like his aggression and energy on the pitch. Those are assets that can be harnessed, not controlled.
“We’ve clashed a few times on the field but it’s all good fun.”
4. Andy Goode & Dave Ward
Andy Goode has gone on record about how much he doesn’t like Dave Ward.
It all kicked off when Goode called Ward out on Twitter for allegedly spitting on Wasps hooker Thomas Young and stamping on his leg. Goode called him “an absolute coward” and tweeted photos of the incident.
Goode also tagged Ward in the tweet.
— Andy Goode (@AndyGoode10) December 29, 2018
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images