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BarbariansAlastair Kellock will lead the Barbarians against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

The former Scotland captain takes charge of a cosmopolitan squad, coached by Sir John Kirwan, for the Killik Cup match.

In the starting side are Australia wing Nick Cummins, who lines up against his former team-mates, with New Zealand’s Bledisloe Cup match winner Colin Slade at flyhalf.

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We have NEW SuperBru Pools for all to join!

The HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 starts this weekend on Saturday, so hurry up and do not delay to register for it, and after registering, make your picks for this weekend’s games!

The End Of Year Tours or November Internationals as it is also known is a few weeks away still, nevertheless register now, while the iron is hot!

As is usual, Rugby-Talk.com’s SuperBru Pools are open for ALL REGISTERED SUBSCRIBERS of Rugby-Talk.com, so if you are not yet registered here on Rugby-Talk.com, do so without delay!  It is so easy to register and such fun to discuss rugby here.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has warned his team they will need to be at their best if they are to keep their unbeaten record under his management in the Northern Hemisphere intact.

Meyer singled out the team’s first fixture against Ireland as a crucial one to kick off the team’s four week tour, and one which is the most tricky of all their fixtures.

While England has been singled out before as the fixture the Boks are likely to hold in the highest esteem, especially with next year’s Rugby World Cup being played there, the Boks know they cannot focus on the Twickenham showdown before getting past the tricky Irish, who have been a team that has plagued them at this time of year under previous coaches.

The Boks didn’t play Ireland when they went north last year, but the Irish will still be smarting from coming amazingly close to beating the All Blacks in Dublin last year, as the New Zealanders snatched the game away from them in the dying seconds to end their season unbeaten.

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Super RugbyIn preparation for Super Rugby in 2015, all 5 New Zealand Super Rugby franchises have named their squads for the tournament.

In the meantime, South African franchises will ponder about their squads and in December we at Rugby-Talk.com will speculate what the South African franchises will look like, as final squads will only be known in January 2015.

The same happens every year, New Zealand and Australia get their ducks in a row before the December break, whereas the South Africans seem to focus on December holidays, going to the beach, having Christmas and generally geting fat and lazy.

When can we ever expect the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and the South African Super Rugby franchises to ever catch up to the more professional attitudes displayed primarily by New Zealand… but also closely followed by their Antipodion counterparts, Australia?

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IrelandAs the Springboks gather in Johannesburg before making their way to the Northern Hemisphere, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is well aware of the challenge he faces against the 2007 World Champions.

“South Africa do loom large,” he said.

“I don’t know if there’s been a better player in the world this year than Duane Vermeulen. I think he’s been unbelievable and we know so many of their other players.

“I was down at the Junior World Cup and watched flyhalf Handre Pollard, as a young fella playing in that final against England and he is an impressive young player, an impressive physical ball-carrier, he’s a big kid.

“So, there’s the new and old there and they have got a great mix and they’ll be very tough.”

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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika

New Wallaby defence coach Nathan Grey believes Australia can turn around their disastrous 2014 campaign if they get it right in the top six inches.

The Wallabies get their five-match year-end tour underway when they take on the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday.

While the emphasis is often on entertainment in BaaBaas games, it is when they take on Wales, France, Ireland and England in the following weeks that the heat will be turned up on a Wallaby team in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Grey said the challenge for the Wallabies was to have a winning mentality.

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EnglandEngland suffered another injury blow on Tuesday when head coach Stuart Lancaster confirmed centre Luther Burrell is unlikely to be fit for the upcoming test against New Zealand after sustaining a hand injury.

Northampton centre Burrell suffered an injury to his right hand during his side’s European Champions Cup victory over the Ospreys last weekend and will see a specialist ahead of New Zealand’s visit to Twickenham on November 8.

“I think it would be tight for New Zealand, if I’m being honest,” Lancaster told a news conference.

“He’s not been in camp this week at all. He’s seeing the specialist and it will probably unfold over the weekend.

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Tim Swiel

Tim Swiel

Cell C Sharks back, Tim Swiel will play for Harlequins Rugby Club in the UK on loan for four months. He joined the team on Saturday and will return to Durban at the end of February 2015.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Tim and I am certain that this experience at a top club will provide him with great memories and will bode well for him in the future”, said The Sharks CEO, John Smit.

Tim Swiel added: “I am looking forward to playing for Harlequins Rugby Club for a few months during the Cell C Sharks off-season.

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Julian Redelinghuys

Julian Redelinghuys

Robbie Coetzee

Robbie Coetzee

Jaco Kriel

Jaco Kriel

Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Seabelo Senatla

Seabelo Senatla

Five newcomers and two returnees have been added to the bulk of the Springboks’ Castle Lager Rugby Championship squad as the national selectors opted for continuity and rewarding form in naming a 36-man squad for next month’s tour to the Northern Hemisphere.

Twenty-nine of the 36 players named for the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour were part of the Rugby Championship squad. They will be joined by the uncapped quintet of Robbie Coetzee, Julian Redelinghuys, Nizaam Carr, Jaco Kriel and Seabelo Senatla, while Coenie Oosthuizen and Johan Goosen have been recalled to the squad for the tour of four Tests.

“It’s wonderful to have this kind of continuity in selection, while the five uncapped players in the squad have all been rewarded for superb form throughout the season,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“Many of the selected players were at our training camp in Stellenbosch last week where we put in a lot of very hard work. We’ll have to hit the ground running when we assemble in Johannesburg on Wednesday before we depart on what will be a challenging tour.

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Rugby-TalkIt’s PUB NIGHT again… and what a shocking start to the week for me it was, have not even had time to change my mind, let alone put deserved news on Rugby-Talk.

Tonight it changes, I WILL catch up on the rugby news, even if it is the last thing I do!

Rugby-Talk.cm quietly reaches milestone after milestone and today Bullscot officially took us over the 11 000 mark, as far as news articles are concerned!

Tomorrow will see us reach 12 Million Page Impressions since we started counting on 31 October 2009 and at year end in 2014 we should stand at over 12.75 Million Page Impressions.

The ABSA Currie Cup concluded this past weekend, with DHL Western Province walking away with the spoils fopr 2014. Congratulations to Province, deserved winners after a stellar Currie Cup season. Heartfelt congratulations also goes out to the Xerox Golden Lions who came oh so close to forcing the game into overtime. All in all a good final!

OK, let’s focus on the PUB tonight…. the idea with PUB NIGHT is to lighten up our dull Tuesday evenings with music, comedy and fun.

Rugby takes a backseat tonight as the clan and fellow rugby nutters gather…

Read the rules below carefully, or you WILL get burnt!

Just for clarity sake, when someone does not adhere to the Rules of the PUB, EVERYBODY jumps on them and pummels them, right… understood?

 

Here’s how it works:

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SpringboksSouth Africa has set themselves the ultimate benchmark, beating none other than the All Blacks during their last outing, and the pieces very much seem to be falling into place for Heyneke Meyer’s Springboks.

It has been heady stuff for the second ranked Test nation, playing impressive attack, while their relentless carpet bombing of the ruck contest has been driven by the Meyer tendency to pick giants in the back row – and this has been a key area of their ability to match New Zealand.

This is a template that the team will only look to develop, while their squad balance is remarkably similar to their great rivals, with Meyer introducing new talent to complement some of the most experienced players in his country’s history.

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New ZealandThe World Champions head to America and the United Kingdom in what is the ultimate live fire training run, for in less than 12 months the All Blacks will re-tread the same soil as they seek to defend the Webb Ellis Cup.

The paradox for New Zealand is that their first Test, against USA in Chicago next up, is followed by World Cup host’s England a week later.

This mirrors the fears that the All Blacks ‘soft pool’ in the 2015 tournament, an immense insult to Argentina, may be ill preparation for the knockout stages, something that caused some issues for the side in 2007.

The Rugby Championship winners play the United States, England, Scotland and Wales to round out their 2014 international schedule.

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AustraliaAustralia embarks on a difficult trip to Europe, playing the busiest schedule of any Southern Hemisphere power, clashing with Sir John Kirwan’s Barbarians to open November for the Wallabies before four straight Tests against the best the old continent has to offer.

Michael Cheika is the newest Test coach on the highest stage, and the successful coach, the only mentor in rugby history to record a Super Rugby / Heineken Cup double, will relish the immediate challenge which has seen him get ready for departure without even trying on his Wallabies gear.

From an on field perspective, to suggest the men in gold are in crisis is ludicrous, after they made the All Blacks look decisively mortal for long periods in Brisbane.

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ArgentinaDaniel Hourcade has worked wonders for Los Pumas so far, but the obvious progress seen throughout The Rugby Championship will need to continue if Argentina is to lay a marker in Europe.

After all, the Rugby World Cup will be played on the same soil next year, with the South Americans alongside the All Blacks in the same group.

The last time Los Pumas played the quadrennial tournament in the old continent, they defeated hosts France twice to finish third overall, an achievement that many believe was the genesis for their eventual inclusion into the South’s premier international competition.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr has realised his dream of becoming a Springbok after the No 8 was included in the year-end squad that will travel to the Northern Hemisphere.

His selection is warranted after being the stand-out player in the Stormers’ Super Rugby campaign as well as being pivotal to the success of Western Province winning the Currie Cup.

An emotional Carr said he rushed to the television at 11.30 on Monday morning for the announcement of the squad and, when he saw he had cracked the nod in Heyneke Meyer’s year-end squad, he nearly jumped a hole in floor.

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Sir Ian McGeechan

Sir Ian McGeechan

The Springboks’ recent evolution from a kicking strategy to a more ball-in-hand approach has been noted in the Northern Hemisphere.

Heyneke Meyer’s Springboks are set to play four Tests there next month, starting with a clash against Ireland in Dublin on 8 November. After that, they will face England (London 15 November), Italy (Padova 22 November) and Wales (Cardiff 29 November) in consecutive weeks.

The Boks have shown more attacking intent in recent times after been criticised for playing a one-dimensional, kicking game.

The change in strategy has caught the eye for former British and Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan.

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Sampie Mastriet

Sampie Mastriet

Lohan Jacobs

Lohan Jacobs

Marvin Orie

Marvin Orie

Rohan Janse van Rensburg

Rohan Janse van Rensburg

The Xerox Golden Lions have snapped up a quartet of Vodacom Blue Bulls players – including two SA under-20 stars and a Springbok Sevens player for the upcoming season as more discontent sets in in Pretoria.

Already the Bulls lost one of their rising stars, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, to Western Province earlier this year, while snapping up Boks Trevor Nyakane and Adriaan Strauss for the upcoming season as well as Toyota Cheetahs flanker Lappies Labuschagne.

But now the cross-Jukskei trek has seen the Bulls lose not only Springbok Sevens flyer Sampie Mastriet to the Lions, but also top young players Marvin Orie, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Lohan Jacobs.

The quartet have signed for the Lions after failing to find any meaningful game time at the Bulls as the bottleneck at the top continues.

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Tiaan LiebenbergWestern Province hooker Tiaan Liebenberg has been forced to retire after being plagued by back injuries for some time now.

The 32-year-old will be returning to Bloemfontein to join up with his family and to get involved with the business.

The hooker was a mere spectator during Western Province’s 19-16 Currie Cup victory over the Lions on Saturday and although the veteran has reached some lofty heights in rugby, he was still sad not to be a part of it.

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New ZealandAll Blacks centre Conrad Smith expressed his excitement ahead of their historic match against the United States, which will be the first time New Zealand has played on American soil in 34 years.

Smith stated that the All Blacks are enjoying anonymity in the city of Chicago, Illinois as they were free to walk about largely unrecognised by the local population, as they explored the Windy City.

“We enjoyed the walk, the different sites and playing in a place we haven’t played at before. For old guys like myself, it’s a bit of a novelty but I think the guys will enjoy the week.

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England head coach Stuart Lancaster has added Dave Ewers, Henry Slade and Thomas Waldrom to the squad preparing for the 2014 Autumn Internationals.

The Exeter Chiefs trio come in as injury cover for James Haskell (Wasps), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints) and Billy Vunipola (Saracens).

Burrell is remaining with Saints for specialist assessment on his injured right hand on Monday and Tuesday while Vunipola will undergo the return to play protocol in camp after suffering concussion in Saracens’ game at Munster on Friday.

Haskell is still getting over a viral infection and, with Will Fraser (Saracens) also suffering a concussion, Ewers comes in.

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ScotlandHead coach Vern Cotter yesterday added two players to Scotland’s viagogo Autumn Test training squad in Newcastle.

Peter Horne, the five-times capped Glasgow Warriors centre, and uncapped Edinburgh scrum-half, Sam Hidalgo Clyne, have been brought in as precautionary injury cover for Alex Dunbar and Chris Cusiter respectively.

Dunbar reported ankle discomfort during the Warriors’ European Rugby Champions Cup win over Montpellier in France on Saturday, while Cusiter missed Sale Sharks’ corresponding Cup clash with a calf strain.

The pair will require further assessment from the medical team over the coming days to determine their time of return.

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EdinburghEdinburgh Rugby secured their second successive victory in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, beating Lyon 25-17 at BT Murrayfield, after numerous injury setbacks and losing five players in the opening quarter.

Coach Alan Solomons afterwards praised the character of his Edinburgh side, who came through adversity to record a morale-boosting victory.

“This actually tops it [last week’s win at Bordeaux]. To lose five players like that – in 37 years, I’ve never seen anything like it – speaks volumes for the strength of character of this side.”

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The Springboks concluded a week of intense training at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport on Friday as their preparations for the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to Ireland, England, Italy and Wales stepped up a gear.

A total of 31 players took part in the training camp after prop Marcel van der Merwe withdrew due to injury.

Amongst the squad were four uncapped players in Lizo Gqoboka (prop), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Boela Abrahams (scrumhalf) and Rudy Paige (scrumhalf), who were invited to get a taste of what Springbok rugby is all about after impressive performances for their provinces in the Absa Currie Cup.

“We had a good week and the players really worked very hard on the field and in the gym,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“The emphasis was on conditioning and we also paid a lot of attention to detail on and off the field. It was great to have time to work on these things before we embark on what will be a very tough tour.

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Israel Folau

Israel Folau

Wallabies and Waratahs fullback Israel Folau has been handed the ultimate honour in Australian rugby after being named the John Eales Medallist for 2014.

At Australian rugby’s night of nights, the ARU celebrated and acknowledged the men and women in the Australian rugby community – fans, players, coaches, match officials and administrators – for their dedication, commitment and outstanding performance.

The 2014 ceremony was the first time performances in Super Rugby competition were incorporated into the event, while it was the first opportunity to recognise the best performers from the inaugural National Rugby Championship.

The John Eales Medallist is voted for by Wallabies players on a 3-2-1 basis after each Test. The winner is the player that has accumulated the most points over the past 12 months from the 2013 Spring Tour to the third Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand earlier this month.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale

Disgraced utility back Kurtley Beale has been fined, but will rejoin the Wallaby team at the weekend.

He will board a flight on Saturday to rejoin the Wallabies on their year-end European tour.

It followed his in-flight confrontation with former Wallabies business and logistics manager Di Patston and subsequent revelations that he sent lewd text messages to teammates about the former staffer.

A tribunal on Friday found Beale guilty of a serious violation of the Australian Rugby Union code of conduct, and handed down a AU$ 45 000 (about US$ 40 000) fine, for sending an offensive photograph to an ARU employee.

The charge related to an image Beale admitted to sending on 9 June.

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ScrumAfter the Xerox Golden Lions demolition of the Cell C Sharks scrum in the Currie Cup Semi-Final last weekend and the average performance of DHL Western Province in the scrums against the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the other Semi-Final, this week’s hottest debates has raged about what will happen in the scrums in the Final and how the referee, Craig Joubert, will officiate this aspect of the game.

Balie Swart, adviser to SARU and to the Referees on scrumming in South Africa, came under heavy bombardment from DHL Western Province and in particular Gert Smal and Allister Coetzee. They are unhappy that SARU’s man is not impartial, when he declared that the Golden Lions scrum is ahead of all other South African scrumming units.

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Brendan Venter

Brendan Venter

Gary Gold

Gary Gold

The Cell C Sharks have made two key appointments – Gary Gold as Director of Rugby and Brendan Venter as Technical Director.

Cell C Sharks Chief Executive Officer, John Smit, confirmed the appointment of former the Springbok assistant coach, Gold, as the Sharks’ new Director of Rugby.

However, the appointment of Venter – who guided the Sharks to the Currie Cup title in 2013 – is the more interesting addition to their backroom staff.

The 47-year-old Gold, who is currently coach of Japanese Top League club Kobelco Steelers, has signed a three-year contract – from 2015 to 2017.

“Gary is an experienced coach who brings a wealth of knowledge and an impressive level of commitment to his new role,” the Sharks CEO, Smit said.

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Greg Peters

Greg Peters

Japan has beaten out Singapore as the preferred host for the 18th team in the expanded Super Rugby competition, governing body Sanzar said on Friday.

The southern hemisphere provincial competition will increase from 15 to 18 teams in 2016, with one team from South Africa and another from Argentina already awarded places.

Japan and Singapore were vying against each other for the last available spot with Japan getting the vote after a meeting of the South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby (Sanzar) executive board.

“Compelling proposals were put forth by Japan and Singapore in what was a very competitive tender process and we thank both parties for their passion in sharing our vision to expand the competition to new fans, territories and commercial markets,” Sanzar chief executive Greg Peters said in a statement.

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Singapore National Stadium

Singapore Sports Hub – National Stadium

Singapore has effectively conceded it has lost out to Japan to become the 18th Super Rugby side.

Although the South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby (Sanzar) has not officially announced which Asian country would host the new team in an expanded competition, it has already been widely reported that Japan has won the bid ahead of Singapore.

Singapore’s bidders released a statement on Thursday, seemingly acknowledging that Japan had been selected as the winner.

“Clearly Japan is a mature, established rugby market, while Singapore is new to the global rugby scene,” said Eric Series, the financial backer of the proposed Singapore bid.

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NamibiaThree new caps have been included in the Namibian national side to face Germany in Windhoek on 29 October.

The side will be captained by Western Province loose forward Rohan Kitshoff, who will make his 17th test appearance for his country.

Coach Danie Vermeulen on Thursday included Free State Cheetahs hooker and captain Torsten van Jaarsveld, Brive’s Tjuee Uanive and JC Greyling from Old Wesley RFC (Dublin, Ireland) in his squad of 23 for the once-off Test match.

Van Jaarsveld and Uanive are in the starting line-up, while Greyling is expected to earn his first cap coming off the bench.

The 27-year-old Van Jaarsveld was outstanding for the Free State Cheetahs this year and will start in his first Test for the Welwitchias.

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DHL WPDHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has kept the changes to a minimum for Saturday’s 2014 ABSA Currie Cup Final clash against the Xerox Golden Lions at DHL Newlands (kick-off 17:00 SA Time).

In the only change to the starting XV that beat the Blue Bulls by 31-23 last weekend, fit-again centre Jaco Taute returns in the No 12 jersey to resume his partnership with skipper Juan de Jongh, who will be playing in his 50th match in the Blue & White hoops of DHL Western Province.

Michael van der Spuy reverts to the bench for Saturday’s final, where he is joined by lock Gerbrandt Grobler, who comes into the matchday squad at the expense of prop Oli Kebble, who came off the bench last weekend.

No 8 Nizaam Carr, who left the field in the first half of last week’s semifinal, has been passed fit for the final, with coach Coetzee praising the consistency in selection during the business-end of the 2014 ABSA Currie Cup.

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