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FranceWalesGeorge North will make his 50th international appearance, in record time, against France on Saturday, and will be looking to continue his purple patch against Les Bleus.

At just 22-years-old, North will become the youngest international player ever to reach the milestone – it will be his 47th cap for Wales, added to three for the British and Irish Lions.

The towering Northampton wing scored tries against France in each of the 2 previous matches and will be looking to continue that form as Wales seek a 4th straight win over Philippe Saint-Andre’s side.

North will make his comeback for Wales having sat out the 26 / 23 win over Scotland 2 weeks ago due to a pair of concussions suffered against England the week before.

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ScotlandItalyScotland head coach Vern Cotter is wary of a physical Italian test as he welcomes the Azzurri to Murrayfield in search of a maiden Six Nations victory.

Cotter has charged Peter Horne with the task of filling Finn Russell’s No 10 shirt – one of 4 changes from the side that lost 23 / 26 to Wales 2 weeks ago.

And he expects the Glasgow Warriors utility man to step up to the plate and help an ever-improving Scotland side turn promising performances into a result.

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Super RugbyIt is Round 3 of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are 3 games on Friday 20 February and 4 games on Saturday 21 February.

The Waratahs and defending champions of Australia have a BYE weekend.

Unlike in 2013 and 2014, all countries started Super Rugby on the same weekend a week ago, so we will not have skewed Logs to deal with. A team also does not pick up ANY POINTS during a BYE weekend, which is very refreshing for a change!

Super Rugby has no June break either in an attempt to make it finish early enough to fit in an abridged Rugby Championship before Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off on 18 September 2015.

Round 1 and 2 had some real upsets and some of the teams who were touted as Tournament winners lost badly.

Round 3 promises to deliver more surprizes!

The Friday games are: Highlanders vs Reds in Dunedin, Western Force vs Hurricanes in Perth and the Toyota Cheetahs vs Blues in Bloemfontein. On Saturday it’s the Chiefs vs Crusaders, Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies in Melbourne, Vodacom Bulls vs Cell C Sharks in Pretoria and the Emirates Lions vs DHL Stormers in Johannesburg to finish off Round 3.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Forwards Bongi Mbonambi and Nizaam Carr have been named in the DHL Stormers starting 15 for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Lions at Emirates Airlines Park (kick-off 19:10 SA Time, 17:10 GMT).

Mbonambi will make his first start for the DHL Stormers in a rotational change at hooker, with Scarra Ntubeni reverting to the bench, whilst Springbok loose forward Carr comes in for the injured Rynhardt Elstadt in the No 6 jersey.

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WhistleRound 3 of Super Rugby 2015 sees 3 matches on Friday and 4 matches on Saturday.

The Round starts off with the Highlanders up against the Reds in Dunedin and the Round finishes with the local derby between the high-flying DHL Stormers against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg.

SANZAR has announced the Match Officials for Round 3 of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

  • Chris Pollock was not considered for selection after sustaining a minor injury during his pre-game preparation last Saturday. He will be given another week to return to full fitness.
  • Jaco van Heerden is set to make his Super Rugby debut refereeing the Vodacom Bulls vs Cell C Sharks match. A law graduate and Advocate to the High Court of South Africa, Van Heerden played rugby for his university before later turning his attention to refereeing. The 32-year old handled himself with aplomb in his first Currie Cup match during the 2014 season and it was no surprise that he was awarded a Semi-Final later in the year.
  • Our thoughts and best wishes are extended to Shaun Veldsman and his family after the TMO was assaulted and stabbed in his vehicle following last week’s match between the Stormers and the Blues in Cape Town. We wish him all the very best for a speedy recovery.

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Varsity CupTable-topping FNB UP-Tuks made a big statement with a comprehensive 53 / 8 victory over 3-time FNB Varsity Cup champions FNB Maties in Pretoria on Monday.

The 2-time champions scored 7 tries in front of their home crowd to retain their place at the top of the standings, 1 Log Point ahead of FNB UFS-Shimlas who are the only other unbeaten side left in the competition after Round 3.

UFS-Shimlas ran riot in the 1st-ever Varsity Cup Bloemfontein derby, handing local rivals FNB CUT a big 57 / 0 defeat in terrible conditions at the CUT Rugby Stadium.

FNB UJ moved past FNB NWU-Pukke into 3rd place after earning a hard-fought 10 / 8 win against them in Johannesburg, while defending champions FNB UCT retained the Monte Taljaard trophy with a comfortable 40 / 13 victory over FNB NMMU on a windy Green Mile.

It was the 1st defeat of the season for NWU-Pukke, who fought back well but had to be content with a bonus point against UJ, who showed plenty of heart to hang on for the win under pressure and bounce back from defeat to UFS-Shimlas at home last week.

In Bloemfontein the only thing standing in UFS-Shimlas’ way was the inclement weather, with play briefly suspended at the start of the 2nd half due to a thunderstorm, but even that could not stop them from running in 9 tries against their cross-town rivals CUT.

Conditions also played a big role in Cape Town, with the notorious wind on the Green Mile making things tricky in the coastal clash between UCT and NMMU, but the Ikeys were in a different class on the night – outscoring the Madibaz by 5 tries to 2 in the end.

That leaves the defending champions UCT in 5th position, just 1 Log Point behind NWU-Pukke whose bonus point in Johannesburg was enough to see them stay in the Top 4, with both teams picking up a win, a draw and a loss from their first 3 games.

In the final match of the night UP-Tuks handed Maties their first defeat of the season following consecutive draws against UCT and NWU-Pukke, leaving the Stellenbosch side down in 7th place behind NMMU on points difference. FNB UP Tuks absolutely smashed Maties in the process.

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Andries Ferreira

Andries Ferreira

The Golden Lions Rugby Union announced that they signed more players at the Union as well as the re-signing of 2 Vodacom Super Rugby players.

The GLRU has secured the services of lock Andries Ferreira who has signed a 2-year contract. Ferreira recently returned from a stint in Italy at Pro12 side Zebre but also has previous Vodacom Super Rugby and ABSA Currie Cup experience with the Cheetahs.

Ferreira will join the GLRU with immediate effect and will look to bolster the lock stock at the Union and provide added physicality in the tight 5.

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Cell C SharksGood news appears to suddenly be coming in clusters for the Cell C Sharks, who have followed on from their opening Vodacom Super Rugby win against the Emirates Lions with what for director of rugby Gary Gold will be a pleasing wave of important players returning to the mix.

On Sunday morning, the day after his team scored what he called a “relieving” win over the Lions, Gold received the news that the 2 Japanese clubs that backline kingpins JP Pietersen and Frans Steyn play for were both knocked out of their competition this past weekend. That means they will be back sooner rather than later, and will probably be available for the crucial game against the Stormers in Cape Town the week after next.

“I suppose it’s not nice for those players to lose but it is good news for us,” grinned Gold.

Then on Monday a man that Gold would really like to see in action as soon as possible as he is such an important cog in the forward machine, Willem Alberts, took part in full training for the first time. He could also be ready for the Stormers game.

Also at the 2-hour middle of the day training session on a Kings Park outerfield was Ryan Kankowski. The former Springbok No 8 is now into his 2nd week back from Japan and will be available for Saturday’s clash with the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus.

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Marcel van der Merwe

Marcel van der Merwe

Vodacom Bulls prop Marcel van der Merwe has been cleared to return to the playing field and trained with the squad, team doctor Org Strauss confirmed on Monday.

The prop has recovered from a hamstring injury and ligament strain.

News on the injury of midfielder William Small-Smith has been less fortunate though, with the player being ruled out for at least 2 months with a foot injury.

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Rynhardt Elstadt

Rynhardt Elstadt

Stormers flank Rynhardt Elstadt has officially been ruled out of action for at least 4 months – one of several players that will miss the trip to Johannesburg for an encounter with the on Saturday.

The loose forward suffered a leg fracture and further damage to his ankle in the win over the Blues at the weekend.

Elstadt left the field in the 37th minute, after falling awkwardly.

His injury – officially described as a maisonneuve fracture – will see him sidelined for at least 4 months.

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Owen Franks

Owen Franks

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC has accepted a guilty plea from Owen Franks of the Crusaders for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, after he was cited following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Franks has been suspended from all forms of the game for 2 weeks up to and including 8 March 2015.

The incident occurred in the 10th minute of the match between the Highlanders and Crusaders played at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on 21 February 2015.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC assessed the case.

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Willi Heinz

Willi Heinz

Gloucester have added experience and quality to their scrumhalf ranks next season with the capture of Crusaders’ Willi Heinz.

The 28-year-old will join the current Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw and the hugely promising Callum Braley as scrumhalf options for the Cherry and Whites from 2015 – 2016.

Heinz has captained Canterbury in the NPC, represented the Crusaders more than 50 times in Super Rugby, and gained huge popularity with the Canterbury supporters.

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BC Place Stadium, Vancouver

BC Place Stadium, Vancouver

The World Rugby Sevens Series is expanding next season with a 10th tournament confirmed for Vancouver, Canada.

World Rugby announced the new tournament today, with the 60,000 seat BC Place Stadium in Vancouver set to host the Canadian leg of the world series.

Sevens has enjoyed remarkable growth in the past few years with the addition of the sport to the Olympic programme.

Canada are one of the teams that have seen rapid improvement in their performances on the field, and hosting a home tournament is just reward for their passion for the game.

Rugby Canada’s successful bid came through a competitive tender process involving 25 destinations.

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IrelandIreland have called in loose forward Roger Wilson and lock Billy Holland to their training squad ahead of the game against England at the Aviva Stadium.

The Ulster and Munster players complete Joe Schmidt’s 36-man group that will prepare for Sunday’s critical Six Nations Championship showdown in Dublin.

Only prop James Cronin, flank Robbie Diack, scrumhalf Kieran Marmion and prop Nathan White are unavailable due to injury as Ireland prepare for Sunday.

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George North down against England in the SIX Nations

George North down against England in the SIX Nations

Wales have recalled wing George North in place of Alex Cuthbert for the Six Nations match against France.

North missed the 26 / 23 win over Scotland on 15 February after suffering concussion in the opening defeat by England.

Lock Luke Charteris, prop Samson Lee and hooker Scott Baldwin were also named in the team for the game in Paris on Saturday as coach Warren Gatland made 4 changes.

Charteris replaced Jake Ball who started in the win over Scotland at Murrayfield.

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Steffon Armitage

Steffon Armitage

A court in southern France called for further inquiries to be held into allegations of assault against Toulon’s former England flank Steffon Armitage.

Armitage faces a 5 to 6 month suspended prison sentence and €5,000 ($5,649) fine over the incident which occurred in a Toulon restaurant on 13 December.

“There are still a number of grey areas in this case that perhaps further investigation will throw light on,” Armitage’s lawyer Clement Lambert said.

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Mike Brown

Mike Brown

England fullback Mike Brown is unlikely to return to action in time for the crucial Six Nations clash against Ireland following a setback in his recovery from concussion.

The 29-year-old felt a recurrence of his symptoms on Friday after being knocked unconscious in the 47 / 17 victory over Italy and having completed a weekend of rest has restarted the return to play protocols.

The earliest the Harlequins star will be able to resume contact training is Friday, the day head coach Stuart Lancaster announces his starting line-up for Sunday’s showdown between the Championship’s only remaining unbeaten teams in Dublin.

It leaves Brown – who had an outstanding tournament last year scoring 4 tries – with a race against time to prove his fitness knowing any further flare-up in symptoms will force him to start the protocols again and rule him out of contention.

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Guinness Pro12Round 15 of the Guinness PRO12 started on Friday night and concluded on Sunday with the position at the top the same as when the Round started, with Glasgow Warriors still looking down on the other 11 from the pinnacle of the table. However, they have increased their lead and are now 4 points ahead of 2nd placed Ulster.

There could have been no greater difference in emotions experienced after the matches than that between Newport Dragons captain Rynard ‘Ligtoring’ Landman and Munster’s flyer JJ Hanrahan. Landman would have been feeling low and filled with nervous anticipation following his Red Card for elbowing Connacht’s flyhalf Jack Carty early in their match. JJ Hanrahan on the other hand would have been feeling on top of the world following his very late try which earned Munster a draw against Llanelli Scarlets.

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Frans Ludeke

Frans Ludeke

Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke faces one of the toughest challenges of his career this week – resurrecting the Bulls campaign.

2 Losses at home from 2 outings has piled on the pressure for the Bulls, with the prospect of their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign further coming off the rails if they don’t beat the Cell C Sharks this coming weekend at Loftus.

And given their current form, it is a mighty ask.

All the promise and excitement pre-season for the Bulls with big victories over Saracens and the Toyota Cheetahs has been burnt up by 2 mediocre outings on their own hallowed turf.

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Shaun Veldsman

Shaun Veldsman

South African Television Match Official (TMO) Shaun Veldsman was assaulted in his car after officiating Saturday’s Super Rugby match between the Stormers and Blues at Newlands.

According to reports, Veldsman was attacked in his ‘bakkie’ on the N2 after leaving the stadium.

The incident occurred at about 21:00, with Veldsman on his way to Robertson. He was stabbed in his lung.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold signed a sigh of relief when his team managed to bounce back and score an unlikely bonus point at a flooded Kings Park against the Lions on Saturday.

Both the Sharks and the Lions would have been looking to hit back from disappointing losses at their respective home grounds last week after dominating the play.

However, it was the Sharks that seemed to play the torrential conditions better on the night with Pat Lambie managing the game incredibly well with his boot.

Coach Gold was visibly disappointed after the loss to the Cheetahs in the opening round, and although there were no big smiles on his face at the press conference on Saturday, he had to explain that it was relief more than anything to come away with five points.

“I think relief is the word,” Gold said afterwards.

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Kane Hames

Kane Hames

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC has accepted a guilty plea from Kane Hames of the Highlanders for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, after he was cited following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Hames has been suspended from all forms of the game for 5 weeks up to and including 28 March 2015.

The incident occurred in the 74th minute of the match between the Highlanders and Crusaders played at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on 21 February 2015.

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Hayden Triggs Red Carded for punching Duane Vermeulen

Hayden Triggs Red Carded for punching Duane Vermeulen

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC has accepted a guilty plea from Hayden Triggs of the Blues for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, after he was sent off during a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Triggs has been suspended from all forms of the game for 1 week up to and including 28 February 2015.

The incident occurred in the 24th minute of the match between the Stormers and Blues played at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on 21 February 2015.

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Karmichael Hunt

Karmichael Hunt

Reds utility backline player Karmichael Hunt will not be selected for Friday’s Super Rugby match against the Highlanders as he awaits a court appearance to answer charges of supplying cocaine.

The 28-year-old, a potential Wallaby bolter for the World Cup, was stood down by the Reds last week after it emerged he was 1 of 4 people given notice by Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission to appear in court on 5 March.

Hunt missed the Reds’ win over Western Force over the weekend and will continue to stay on the sidelines pending his hearing, the Reds said in a statement.

“Following extensive consultation with Karmichael over the weekend, we have determined that it continues to be best for Karmichael’s welfare that he is not available for selection this Friday,” he said.

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ScotlandHead coach Vern Cotter today (Monday) added 5 capped internationalists to Scotland’s RBS 6 Nations squad, 5 days out from the Round 3 Test against Italy this Saturday at BT Murrayfield (28 February, kick-off 14:30 GMT, 16:30 SA Time).

Scrum-half Chris Cusiter and prop Moray Low have been called up from English Premiership clubs Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs, along with Glasgow Warriors duo Adam Ashe (No 8) and Alex Allan (prop), and Edinburgh No 8 David Denton.

Cusiter (knee) and Ashe (neck) were absent from Cotter’s initial squad selection due to injury, but have recovered to earn the recall, while Denton has recovered from the calf tear sustained in the national team’s pre-Championship camp in Glasgow last month.

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Varsity CupRound 3 of the FNB Varsity Cup on Monday will feature 4 intense rivalries.

The action will get underway with the 1st-ever Varsity Cup Bloemfontein derby as newcomers FNB CUT host their cross-town rivals the FNB UFS-Shimlas in the 1st match to be televised live on Supersport 1.

The Monte Taljaard trophy will be up for grabs once again as coastal sides FNB NMMU and FNB UCT square off on the Green Mile in Cape Town, whilst in Johannesburg FNB UJ will take on FNB NWU-Pukke before the big North-South showdown between FNB UP-Tuks and FNB Maties in Pretoria.

All 4 Varsity Rugby competitions will be up and running on Monday, with the 1st fixtures in the FNB Varsity Young Guns and Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championships kicking off as well.

Although CUT and UFS-Shimlas have never faced each other in the Varsity Cup, there is plenty of history between the 2 sides, so Bloemfontein is likely to come to a standstill when the game kicks off at 16:45 SA Time.

Newly-promoted Varsity Shield champions CUT are still looking for their 1st win of the competition, and would dearly love to make UFS-Shimlas their 1st scalp.

UCT won 2 trophies last year, picking up the Monte Taljaard trophy against the Madibaz in Port Elizabeth before going on to lift the Varsity Cup trophy at the end of the season, and having lost to UP-Tuks in Pretoria last week, they will be desperate to bounce back in front of their fans and keep the trophy in Cape Town for another year.

The trophy is played in memory of star Grey High School and UCT flank Monte Taljaard who was tragically killed in a car accident in 2008, with the match between the Ikeys and the Madibaz doubling as a celebration of his life every year.

After going down at home to UFS-Shimlas last week, UJ will be determined to put things right against a NWU-Pukke side that will still be smarting after seeing a win against Maties in Stellenbosch slip through their hands in Round 2, with a draw.

The late match will see 2 powerhouses of the competition cross swords, with 2-time champions UP-Tuks up against 3-time champions Maties, in Pretoria.

UP-Tuks currently top the standings on points difference ahead of NWU-Pukke, and will want to maintain that position, whilst Maties will be out to break the cycle of stalemates following consecutive draws in their first 2 games.

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Vodacom BullsThe Vodacom Bulls lost their 2nd successive home match when the Hurricanes caused a minor upset by winning 17 / 13 at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening.

The last time the 3-time champions lost consecutive matches at home was in Rounds 2 and 3 in 2008. Incidentally, that was also the last year the Hurricanes won in Pretoria before this weekend.

The home team could not get into gear and were heavily penalised by referee Andre Lees. These and other errors proved very costly in the end.

Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard scored all the Vodacom Bulls’ points through a try, conversion and 2 penalty goals.

In the aftermath to the match, the Bulls and Hurricanes Press Conferences were a sight to behold!

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, wide-eyed as ever, seemed more strained than usual and once again underlined what he perceived as positives to be taken from the game. Captain Pierre Spies could not hide the shame and it appeared that he was deliberately looking down to avoid eye-contact with menbers of the Media.

On the other hand, Hurricanes Coach Chris Boys was in a juvial mode, making an early joke during the Press Conference, yet also stating that although they achieved to come “take Points” in South Africa, that he was not yet satisfied and felt that the Hurricans should improve.

 

Here are the Audio streams of the After Match Press Conferences:

Bulls after match Press Conference:

 

Hurricanes after match Press Conference:

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  • cane 28 Feb 2015, 14:44 SAST - @ nortie: Too true Naughtie. And thank you for your kind words. Sport .................................................it is great entertainment................................................. Because, the result...
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