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Brendon Venter

While the atrocious weather conditions played a significant role in a low-scoring affair at Loftus Versfeld, I believe Argentina underlined their notoriety as the most negative side in world rugby in every single area of play.

Not only were they cynical in conceding a plethora of penalties, the way they scrummed, contested the line-outs and mauls, and the number of off-the-ball incidents – in my view the most cowardice of acts – was infuriating to behold.

I would suggest that the underhand tactics employed by the visitors during the match were entirely pre-planned, with talk of embracing a new era and playing “more rugby” a well-rehearsed ruse.

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Tony Johnson

I’m not sure I can remember a game from South Africa in which it rained so heavily. We get a fair bit of that in New Zealand, but Pretoria? Is this global warming in action?

And Sydney turned on a bit of a shocker for the first Bledisloe Cup test, contributing to an error-ridden, penalty infested stalemate.

The Springboks will be happy to get out of a tricky game with a win, and they’re the only team to have one of those right now!

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imageIn the 1980′s people sat spellbound in front of their television screens watching a show called MacGyver. Every week the hero would somehow find himself in a predicament and escape using sparse items in the process.

It would seem as if Bulls prop MacGyver Dean Greyling has lived up to his name this week after he was suspended for one week when he was found guilty of foul play in the Currie Cup match between the Blue Bulls and the Golden Lions on Saturday 9 August in Johannesburg.

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Chris Jack

Former All Black Chris Jack is building a new career.

In his heyday, former lock Chris Jack was accustomed to being lifted in countless lineouts. These days, he’s the one doing the heavy lifting.

The 35-year-old has taken up a building apprenticeship, a move which saw him hang up the boots after 14 years of professional rugby.

“It’s rewarding but it’s a big learning curve having not done much outside of school except professional rugby,” Jack says.

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Ewen McKenzie

Ewen McKenzie

Ewen McKenzie has stuck solid with his Wallaby side from the opening Bledisloe Cup clash to prevent dual droughts continuing in Auckland; a twelfth year without the prized trophy, and a 29th without victory at Eden Park.

But aside from on-field personnel, the Wallabies coach has continued to tinker with many of the team’s preparation and behavioural habits to snap both hoodoos against the All Blacks.

Though individually small, the changes are designed to add up to the Wallabies psychologically breaking the shackles of a long-run of defeat against New Zealand.

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Derrick Minnie

Derrick Minnie has been entrusted to take over the Lion’s captaincy from Warren Whiteley

Derrick Minnie will reclaim the Golden Lions’ captaincy armband when they head to Cape Town for a top-of-the-table Currie Cup clash with Western Province.

The Lions, who top the table on points difference ahead of WP, will head to Newlands without regular skipper Warren Whitely – who was called up to the Springbok squad in place of the injured loose forward Willem Albert, for the Test against Argentina in Salta on Saturday.

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South AfricaThe Springboks have landed in Argentina with no injury concerns, but Meyer will be forced to ponder the likes of fit-again Pat Lambie and Juan Smith.

Having come away from the wet and wild Loftus Versfeld with only an injury before the game to Willem Alberts, Meyer will have a full compliment to pick from when they play Argentina in Salta.

Meyer has now picked up Lions captain Warren Whiteley as cover for Alberts who is staying at home alongside Victor Matfield.

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Brad Thorn

Brad Thorn: Still going strong at 39

Leicester Tigers have confirmed the arrival of World Cup-winning former All Black second row Brad Thorn.

39-year-old New Zealander was referred to by Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill as “one of the great all-time rugby players the world has ever seen.” He is expected at the club at the end of September.

Thorn became the first player to win World Cup, Super Rugby and Heineken Cup titles and arrives from the Highlanders having previously represented the Crusaders and Leinster.

“He is a very driven individual,” Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury.

“He wants to play in the Premiership and he wants to win the Premiership.”

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WP RugbyWestern Province, for the first time in almost two seasons, came away from a match without an injury following their 41-17 win over the Blue Bulls in their Currie Cup match at Newlands, in Cape Town, on Saturday.

Province coach Allister Coetzee said the entire match-day squad over the weekend had indeed emerged injury-free.

Province, and their Super Rugby side, the Stormers, had been picking up a variety of injuries almost without fail in the past two seasons.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks had to revert to what they know, as the forwards rumbled them to victory in the second half of their opening home Absa Currie Cup game against the Steval Pumas, but the coaches appear to be taking the glass half full view to their start to the season.

According to reports, with the big battering rams that dictated a forward based approach during the Super Rugby season now either injured, with the Springboks or departed for Japan, the young Sharks coaches who have taken over for the domestic competition have spoken about the need to play to different strengths.

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Francois Steyn

Frans Steyn wil nie n “GELDJAGTER” genoem word nie.

​”Ek is nie ’n kind nie.”

Só het Frans Steyn glo op die laaste krisisvergadering tussen hom en die Suid-Afrikaanse Rugbyunie (SARU) gesê voordat hy opgestaan, uitgeloop en die Springbok-groep vaarwel geroep het.

Dit was nadat meer as een vergadering tussen hom en SARU oor sy terugkeer uit Frankryk skipbreuk gely het.

SARU het aanvanklik in 2012 skriftelik ingestem om Steyn se kontrak met ’n Franse bemarkingsmaatskappy uit te koop sodat hy weer heeltyds vir Suid-Afrika beskikbaar kon wees. SARU het die paaiemente daarvoor stiptelik betaal – tot in Januarie 2013 toe betalings skielik eensydig gestaak is.

 

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Gary Botha (L) and Ian McIntosh (R) pose with students from Waterkloof high school in Pretoria

Gary Botha (L) and Ian McIntosh (R) pose with students from Waterkloof high school in Pretoria

The Webb Ellis Cup has completed its first day in South Africa as part of the fifth leg of the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour.

On August 18 the Trophy visited Hoerskool Waterkloof in Pretoria where children from the school, along with groups from St Peters, Pretoria Technical High School and Elarduspark got to show off their Rugby playing skills in a coaching clinic which was led by former South Africa coach Ian McIntosh and Rugby World Cup 2007 winner Gary Botha.

Land Rover supports a number of schools through its South African dealer network – a total of 31 dealers who support local schools within their communities.

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WP RugbyWhen the Springboks finished off their 2013 campaign with a victory over France in Paris, coach Heyneke Meyer spoke about the need for South African rugby to undergo revolutionary change in order to close the gap that the All Blacks enjoyed when it came to conditioning and mental strength.

At the start of the 2014 Castle Lager Rugby Championship, he continued the theme of revolution, this time talking about the need to bring greater intensity and tempo to the Bok game, to be able to out-think opponents now that the days of bludgeoning opposition with physicality are in the past.

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Jannie du Plessis & Tendai Mtawarira

Jannie du Plessis & Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira

The Springboks missed an ideal opportunity to put the pressure on New Zealand and Australia after the latter two sides drew 12-all in the first game of this year’s Rugby Championship at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.

To say the unseasonal Loftus monsoon made constructive rugby extremely difficult is an understatement, but one would like to believe that the Boks should have played the situation much better than Saturday’s 13-6 victory in their opener against Argentina in Pretoria.

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Schools RugbyThe SA Schools selectors have retained only two players and made a further two positional changes for the team’s second outing of the 2014 Under 18 International Series against Wales on Tuesday, 19 August in George.

The SA Schools outplayed France 28-13 while England managed to secure a last gap 24-21 victory over Wales in the earlier match. The other teams taking part in the annual junior international series are England, France and Italy.

The opening fixtures took placed last Friday 15 August at City Park in Cape Town and the action now moves to Outeniqua Park in George before the final matches at Paul Roos Markötter Stadium in Stellenbosch on Saturday, 23 August.

The three players who will start in their second match are right wing Andell Loubser, inside centre IT Jackson and lock Eduard Zandberg.

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Romain Poite

Romain Poite, the most influential Frenchman since Inspector Clouseau

IF Wallabies fans were dismayed by the whistle-happy performance of referee Jaco Peyper last weekend, they will be equally alarmed to hear that Frenchman Romain Poite is in charge of Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup return bout in Auckland.

Poite controlled last year’s big third Test defeat to the British & Irish Lions in a game in which the Wallabies front row was hammered by the referee.

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AustraliaWallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has named an unchanged line-up for Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup encounter, convinced the team that drew 12-all in the series opener in Sydney can topple the All Blacks at their Eden Park fortress.

McKenzie resisted calls to reinstate Bernard Foley at five-eighth to retain Kurtley Beale as Australia’s chief playmaker as the Wallabies bid to break their 28-year drought in Auckland.

Beale had an influential game in the first Test, kicking all of Australia’s points and McKenzie is backing the mercurial match-winner to continue sparking the Wallabies attack in more favourable conditions this weekend.

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Agustín Creevy

Driven: Agustín Creevy

Argentina captain Agustín Creevy is targeting revenge against South Africa after his men’s narrow defeat in Pretoria.

A far cry from the 73-13 thrashing suffered by Argentina in 2013, Creevy’s team pushed the Springboks all the way in horrendous conditions at Loftus.

Enjoying the upper hand in the scrum, Creevy underlined the dissatisfaction with the result after coming so close to a first ever win over South Africa.

“We are not happy, because we couldn’t get a try [in the dying minutes] and because we lost,” said Creevy.

“We are a group that works hard and will make the sacrifices we need to the revenge in Salta.”

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The Rugby ChampionshipExtra-Time for Bledisloe Cup matches will not be introduced following the 12-12 draw between the Wallabies and All Blacks last Saturday.

SANZAR believes there is no need to change to laws as they stand, and given the rarity of tied results, they have no doubt there will be a clear winner of The Rugby Championship tournament within which the Bledisloe is contested.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is set to use a very different starting line-up when his team face off with Argentina in their Castle Lager Rugby Championship return fixture in Salta on Saturday.

While the Loftus Versfeld monsoon did little to answer questions ahead of the bigger clashes in this year’s Championship, it did at least give the Boks a solid start to the campaign and much food for thought ahead of the traditionally tough return fixture in Argentina.

Following a narrow win last year and a draw in 2012, the Boks know all too well how difficult the Argentinean experience will be for them, and are likely to bolster their squad with a number of senior players when they make their team selection on Wednesday.

The side arrived in Sao Paulo safely en route to Buenos Aires and will get there Monday evening South African time, meaning there will only be time for two training sessions before they transfer to Salta later in the week for the game.

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Warren Whiteley

Warren Whiteley

New Springbok call-up Warren Whiteley could well find himself playing a bigger part in this weekend’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship game than he thought as injury concerns followed the Boks en route to Argentina.

Already gearing themselves up for a tough match in Salta this weekend, the Boks will need to take all the positives out of their performance in the monsoon rain at Loftus and turn it around to ensure a second victory over Los Pumas in a fixture they have traditionally struggled in.

Whiteley was a last minute call-up before the Loftus game when Willem Alberts went down to a hamstring injury, and has been called up as cover for loose forward and no8 – something hat Alberts was also the back-up to.

Whiteley’s prowess in the loose, his natural roving ability and his lineout options he provides the team will weigh heavily on coach Heyneke Meyer’s mind as he uses the short week to plan for the assault that is waiting for the Boks in Salta.

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Nick Mallett

Nick Mallett

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett believes the Boks didn’t adapt to the adverse weather conditions well enough in their Test against Argentina in Pretoria on Saturday.

Heavy rain an hail made for very tough playing conditions and the Boks struggled to a nervy 13-6 victory.

Mallett, speaking on SuperSport after the match, admitted the conditions made things tough, but felt the Boks could have done better in adapting their strategy.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

The New Zealand media is an unforgiving animal, pouncing at the very first sight of a potential weakness.

In the wake of a rare draw, after a 17-Test winning run, the question is now being raised: ‘Is this All Black team on the slide?’

NZ Herald columnist Chris Rattue suggested the All Blacks appeared to have peaked and are now sliding towards rugby mortality – where the rest of the world resides.

“Are these All Blacks any longer the indomitable force that we like to portray them as?,” Rattue suggested.

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Free State CheetahsThe Cheetahs have paid the price for a bruising win against the Griquas on Saturday with Luan de Bruin, Elgar Watts and Johannes “Boom” Prinsloo looking set to miss their clash against the Sharks.

The Free State Stadium turned into a minor battlefield on Saturday with medical teams having to stretcher players off on more than one occasion.

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IRBThere has been no change in the Top 12 of the IRB world rankings following the opening round of The Rugby Championship.

Despite seeing their 17-Test win streak end in Sydney thanks to a 12-12 draw with the Wallabies, New Zealand continue to lead the way on 93.42 points.

The Wallabies, courageous in their efforts – and perhaps a little unlucky – remain in third position on 87.32.

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WP jou lekker dingIt was a case of mission accomplished for DHL Western Province on Saturday, as they picked up an impressive 41-17 Absa Currie Cup win over the Vodacom Blue Bulls – their second successive bonus-point victory of 2014.

“It’s a good start for us at home – it’s mission accomplished,” DHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee told www.wprugby.com at DHL Newlands on Saturday night.

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R.I.P. BloubulleA dispute between the Blue Bulls Rugby Union’s top brass and its ex-players union is threatening to escalate.

According to reports, there is dissatisfaction among the ex-players about the union’s plans to “write the ex-players union out of the union’s constitution”.

Former Springbok and Bulls captain Wynand Claassen is the chairperson of the ex-players union.

The Blue Bulls Rugby Union is set to approve the new constitution which would see the ex-players union have no say whatsoever on the union’s executive committee.

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Richie Gray

Richie Gray

Richie Gray has described working with the Springboks for the past year as an “honour” and admits he does not know if he will return to coach at Murrayfield.

The 44-year-old from Galashiels is breakdown skills coach at South African Rugby Union, having made his name developing rugby training equipment.

He said: “I cannot fault this country – the supporters, the players and the management have been outstanding.

“For me even to be down here, it’s a real honour to work with this country.”

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World Club 7'sJoaquin Paz sparked a second-half comeback as unbeaten Buenos Aires clinched the World Club 7′s title at Twickenham over Auckland, who lost out at the final hurdle for the second year running.

Auckland were in the ascendancy after Mitch Karpik’s double but the Argentinians’ resolve throughout the weekend was also present in the final, with the deadly Paz crossing twice to secure a 26-22 victory.

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