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BlackadderIn the mould of Blackadder, no not that one, you are thinking of Todd, I’m talking about the other one, Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has a cunning plan… to emulate Jake White and get his possible reasons for potential failure on record 4 days before kick off.

White complained about how skewered and unfair the competition is for the sides ending outside of the top 2 spots. White though, as a cunning strategist, is small fry compared to the brilliance that is Cheika.

Cheika, realizing that because his side ended top of the combined log and therefor he couldn’t use the “we didn’t get an extra week’s rest” excuse, had to dig really deep, and boy, he didn’t disappoint.

In a move that would put Kasperov to shame, he has hatched a plan so cunning that not even Blofeldt could have thought it out.

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Serge Blanco

Serge Blanco: Hands on

FFR vice-president Serge Blanco has announced that he is set to play a more active role within the French national team with the aim of “supporting” head coach Philippe Saint-André.

Les Bleus and their staff have come in for harsh criticism from all quarters after their dismal tour of Australia in June which saw them lose all three Tests, two of them by more than 25 points (50-23, 6-0 and 39-13).

Saint-André has the worst win percentage of any French coach in the modern era and calls for his head have been growing from the media and fans.

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EP KingsEP Kings head coach Carlos Spencer has announced a much changed team to take on the Free State Cheetahs in their final warm up game in Cradock on Friday.

Spencer said Luke Watson will once again captain the side, having returned after sitting out the game against the SWD Eagles in George due to a rib injury.

In comparison to the SWD Eagles game, Spencer has named eight new players in the starting line up and four more have received a starting position after being called up from the bench.

Lizo Gqoboka is the only player to retain his spot in the team at loosehead prop. He is accompanied up front by Michael van Vuuren, who returns to hooker in place of Edgar Marutlulle and Tom Botha at tighthead in place of Charl du Plessis. Both Marutlulle and Du Plessis move to the bench.

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Matthew Burke

Matthew Burke

With just one match of the Super Rugby season remaining, who have been the standout players for the year?

Matthew Burke reveals his top 12.

Choosing ten players proved tough, so I called on my chief researchers to help me out and, not surprisingly, the majority of the players that feature have played a part in the finals. We got down to 12, so here they are, in no particular order.

Do you agree with his choices?

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 Nathan Charles

Nathan Charles: Extended his deal with Western Force

Australia hooker Nathan Charles has signed a new deal to stay with the Western Force until the end of 2016.

Charles started every game for the Perth side this season and was rewarded for his club form with a first call into the Wallabies squad, making his debut against France in Melbourne earlier this summer.

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Michael Cheika

HAPPY MAN: Waratahs coach Michael Cheika shares a joke with his players at training this week.

The coach who has overseen the revival of the Waratahs declined to ratchet up the pressure on Crusaders counterpart Todd Blackadder today, by doubting the seven-time Super Rugby champions are stressed from not winning the title since 2008.

Michael Cheika appeared in a typically jovial pre-match mood as the Waratahs continued their preparations for Saturday’s clash between the competition’s first and second-ranked teams at ANZ Stadium.

During a wide-ranging preamble, Cheika neglected to play mind games with Blackadder, another former hard-nosed forward.

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss

Trevor Nyakane

Trevor Nyakane

Lappies Labuschagne

Lappies Labuschagne

Jamba Ulengo

Jamba Ulengo

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd is pleased to announce the signings of Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Pieter Labuschagne and Jamba Ulengo.  All three forwards will join the Vodacom Bulls on November 1st, 2014, while Ulengo has already started training with the Vodacom Blue Bulls.

Springbok hooker Strauss, who captained the Toyota Cheetahs in recent seasons, was South Africa’s Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2013 and returns to Loftus Versfeld, where he made his Vodacom Super Rugby career in 2006 after a seven year absence. He has signed a two year deal.

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John Smit & Tera Mtembu

CEO, John Smit handing Tera Mtembu his jersey

The Sharks are delighted to announce the appointment of talented loose-forward Tera Mtembu as captain of the Cell C Sharks for Absa Currie Cup 2014.

Having come through The Sharks Academy ranks, this dedicated, free-spirited and hard-working youngster has always displayed leadership qualities and is a well-liked and respected member of the squad.

These commendable attributes contributed to him being entrusted with the captaincy armband, whenever he was not on senior duty, during this year’s Vodacom Cup campaign.

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Lionel Cronjé

Lionel Cronjé

The Sharks have landed the services of former Baby Bok Lionel Cronjé.

Cronjé, 25, represented the Brumbies this past season but according to the Sydney Morning Herald’s website, the utility back has signed a two-year deal with the Durban-based Sharks.

He will join them before the start of this year’s Currie Cup competition.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

Crusaders flanker Richie McCaw knows from past experience, both sweet and bitter, that a crucial moment can decide Saturday’s Super Rugby final result against the Waratahs in Sydney.

“When it comes down to one or two moments, the teams that are good enough to take those opportunities are the ones that win,” the All Blacks captain said.

“If you drop your guard for one or two moments, you’ll come second.”

He will be making his eighth Super final appearance, the first being in 2002 against the Waratahs when the Crusaders won the competition for the fourth time.

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Frans LudekeVoor mense aanstoot neem, hierdie is net ‘n grappie, dis nie ernstig of waar nie!

Beste Murray,

Ek is op die oomblik effens depro na vanjaar se Superrugbyseisoen. Wel, die seisoen is amptelik natuurlik nie verby nie, maar vir my en die Bulle is dit natuurlik neusie verby. Ek was in ’n stadium lus om myself aan ’n dakbalk in my garage op te hang, maar as ek eerlik moet wees, het die Sharks se pak slae in Christchurch laasweek my minder kak oor myself laat voel.

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Australian Flag“OUR support goes with the Australian side from here on in – we’d like to see them bring it home,” and with that Brumbies captain Ben Mowen pledged his support for the Waratahs.

It’s a situation unique to Super Rugby within Australian sport where fierce provincial ties are up against a sense of national pride, where this week rugby fans will be encouraged to overlook their dislike for the Waratahs for the greater good of the local game.

The Waratahs will on Saturday host a Super Rugby final for the very first time when they take on long-time nemesis, the Crusaders, at ANZ Stadium.

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Richie McCaw

GOOD NERVES: He may have 113 Tests, 3 World Cups and 137 appearances for the Crusaders to his name, but All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw still gets anxious before the big matches.

For Richie McCaw the job of preparing for big rugby matches should be as simple as flicking dust off his shoes.

That, he says, is nonsense – the anxiety will never go away.

Despite playing 113 tests, appearing in three World Cups and making 137 appearances for the Crusaders, the 33-year-old flanker still finds himself burning-off nervous energy ahead of crucial matches such as Saturday night’s Super Rugby grand final against the Waratahs in Sydney.

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WaratahsThe Waratahs have predictably named an unchanged starting line-up for Saturday’s Super Rugby final against the Crusaders at ANZ Stadium as they seek to convert an eight-match winning streak into a maiden title.

With no injury concerns following last Saturday’s 26-8 semifinal win over the Brumbies, head coach Michael Cheika has retained the 23-man squad that provided the success-starved franchise with a historic home final.

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Steve Hansen

TOUGH CHOICES: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen naming his squad for The Rugby Championship.

If some of the Crusaders’ players needed any extra motivation to win Saturday’s Super Rugby grand final, then All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has provided it.

The Crusaders have eight players in the 31-man Rugby Championship test squad but three omissions were the talking point yesterday.

Hansen dropped Crusaders openside flanker Matt Todd, midfield back Ryan Crotty and first five-eighth Colin Slade.

Todd and Slade have been keeping All Blacks aces Richie McCaw and Dan Carter out of their preferred positions in the Super Rugby arena.

Hansen rang the trio to explain.

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Andrew Mehrtens

Andrew Mehrtens

There’s something different about these Waratahs, who stand between the Crusaders and their eighth Super Rugby title, and I think I’ve worked out what it is.

They’ve finally stopped telling everyone how good they are; and just set about proving it on the field.

Over the years the drums would always get beaten whenever the Waratahs had a big pre-season or early season, and it was so often just noise. Inevitably they’d fail to live up to their own hype.

This year, conversely, they’ve done the most when they’ve said the least.

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New Zealand Sevens team

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR: The New Zealand Sevens team trudges off the field at Ibrox Stadium are missing out on gold to South Africa.

Rio de Janeiro seems a long way from a chilly summer night in Glasgow, but rugby sevens guru Gordon Tietjens has already sent out his wish list of stars for the next Olympics.

That includes Sonny Bill Williams, and current All Blacks Cory Jane, Liam Messam and Julian Savea, as he casts the net wide in the wake of the end of a Commonwealth Games era.

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Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen welcomes hostile crowds and prefers that they boo him.

KEVIN Pietersen has a message for Australian fans — if you want the exiled England star to make runs for Melbourne Stars this summer, boo him.

Pietersen was on Monday night confirmed as the Big Bash League’s biggest marque signing and told the Herald Sun spin king Shane Warne played a major role in him choosing to sign a two-year deal with the Stars.

The flamboyant batsman has become world cricket’s No.1 gun-for-hire since being axed by the Poms in a bitter fallout to last summer’s 5-0 Ashes whitewash.

Pietersen has since captained Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League, is averaging 23 runs for Surrey in England’s T20 Blast and will next be unveiled by St Lucia Zouks in the Caribbean Premier League.

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Get CarterOPERATION “Get Carter” is being hatched at the Waratahs’ Moore headquarters this week, with NSW defence coach and hardman Nathan Grey devising a special strategy to smash Crusaders superstar Dan Carter out of the grand final.

The world’s greatest pointscorer stands in the way of the Waratahs first premiership, and the Tahs plan to ensure that Carter has no room to breathe when the teams collide in the decider at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.

Waratahs enforcer Wycliff Palu successfully targeted Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua in last weekend’s semi-final, and Tahs five-eighth Bernard Foley said they will have similar plans for Carter.

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Olympics 2016New ZealandAustraliaSeveral ex-New Zealand and Australia internationals have confirmed that they will lodge an application to switch allegiances to a Pacific Island nation with whom they hold a passport, with a view to participating at the Rugby World Cup in England next year.

With the inclusion of rugby 7s at the Olympics in 2016, there has been a change in eligibility laws that will see players who have represented one nation now eligible to play for another, if they hold a passport from that country.

If they have not played international rugby in the past 18 months, they will be eligible for their new country in the Sevens World Series or designated Regional Olympic Qualification Tournaments and would thus be able to play for that country in all forms of rugby.

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Commonwealth Games 2014South AfricaThe Commonwealth Games was underway and the first Rugby games of these games were on Saturday 26 July 2014.

All games were played at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow.

South Africa won the Gold Medal, New Zealand the Silver, Australia the Bronze!

Before the Final of these Games, New Zealand had not lost a single Commonwealth Games Sevens game… well, that record no longer stands.

The new Commonwealth Games Gold Medal Champions are South Africa’s Blitzbokke… for 4 more years!

It was a tough and physical Final, and New Zealand still deserve their plaudits for being the premier Sevens side in World Rugby.

Herewith the Fixtures & Results:

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Cricket BallSri-Lanka and South Africa battle each other in the 2nd 5-Day Cricket Test at Colombo in Sri-Lanka from 24 to 28 July 2014. Play starts early for SA viewers, as Sri-Lanka is a few hours ahead of South Africa in the time zones, so it is daly from about 06:00 SA Time every day.

South Africa won the 1st Test and lead the Test Series by 1 / 0 after also taking the ODI Series by 2 – 1, their first ever ODI Series win in Sri-Lanka.

The score cards will be updated at regular intervals here on Rugby-Talk.

Sri-Lanka won the toss and elected to bat.

Sri-Lanka started Day 1 well and at the Close of play on Day 1 were on 305 / 5 after 86 Overs.

It was a slow Day initially on Day 2, both from bat and ball, but the Day started heating up after about 30 Overs done for the Day. Sri-Lanka were all out for 421 in their 1st Innings. South Africa started terribly in their 1st Innings, losing 2 wickets with just 13 on the board. South Africa ended with 98 /  after 52 Overs at Stumps, Day 2.

On Day 3 the South African wickets kept falling at regular intervals, SA reaching 234 / 7 after 111 Overs at Tea of Day 3 and then South Africa were eventually all out for 282 from 134.5 Overs, trailing by 139 rins at the Innings break.

Sri-Lanka started their 2nd Innings and at Stumps on Day 3 were 11 / 0 after 5 Overs.

On Day 4 Sri Lanka kept the pressure on and eventually declared at 229 / 8 after 53.4 Overs, leaving South Africa to chase 369 runs for a win. At Stumps, Day 4 South Africa was on 38 / 1 after 17 Overs, still 331 shy of a win with 9 wickets still in tact.

South Africa were in to bat the whole of Day 5, but there was no attempt to chase a win, it was block, block, block to save the Test! After 102.5 Overs bowled it was 148 / 8, which was then still 221 runs short of the win, with 2 wickets in hand. Rain delayed the Final Session of play on Day 5 for a while, but play resumed again.

South Africa managed to stand their ground, eecking out a DRAW, ending with 159 / 8 after 111 Overs. The result, or non-result, means South Africa moves up to TOP Test spot in the world Cricket Test rankings.

 

Sri-Lanka:
  • First Innings – 421 (121.4 Overs)
  • Second Innings – 229 / 8 Declared (53.4 Overs)
South Africa:
  • First Innings – 282 (134.5 Overs)
  • Second Innings – 159 / 8 (111 Overs)

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German Football

What lessons can be learnt from the successful German Football campaign?

As the dust settles on Germany’s recent FIFA World Cup triumph is there anything that those side’s hoping to lift the Rugby World Cup crown in England next year could learn from Joachim Löw and his all-conquering team?

Are there lessons that could prove pivotal for those sides aiming to win the Women’s Rugby World Cup in France next month?

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Tendai Mtawarira

Beast Mtawarira: Feels privileged to play with the Du Plessis brothers

Sharks prop Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira has revealed that he will leave the Durban-based franchise at the end of 2015.

Mtawarira confirmed that he will further his career outside of South Africa after next year’s World Cup in England.

The veteran of 55 Tests with the Springboks, who has played for the Sharks since 2007, said he hopes to get a fresh challenge in Europe.

“My goals for 2015 is to help the Sharks do well in Super Rugby and to help the Springboks win the World Cup,” he told the MyPlayers website.

That would be a dream come true.

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Craig Joubert

Craig Joubert

South African Craig Joubert, the referee of the 2011 World Cup final between the All Blacks and France, has been appointed to control the final.

He will be assisted by Australians Steve Walsh and James Leckie.

The final will be contested between the Waratahs and the Crusaders in Sydney, Australia on Saturday the 2nd of August.

Bernard Foley

ZIPPY: Bernard Foley takes the ball up for the Waratahs during their Super Rugby semifinal win over the Brumbies.

He accepted the adulation after scoring one of the most memorable tries of the Super Rugby season to secure the NSW Waratahs’ first home final, but Bernard Foley prefers to dwell on the defensive effort that set up a third title showdown with the Crusaders.

Foley’s completion of a sweeping counterattack in the 76th minute at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night was a belated reminder of the Waratahs’ offensive capabilities – though a bruising semifinal with the Brumbies also highlighted another champion-winning prerequisite: unyielding defence.

As the Waratahs headed for their first debrief today ahead of Saturday’s final at ANZ Stadium, the incumbent Wallabies first five-eighth was still marvelling at his side’s ability to withstand immense pressure and prevent the Brumbies scoring after halftime before they closed out a 26-8 victory.

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Eric Anderson

Former All Black Eric Anderson in 2006

Former All Black front-rower Eric Anderson has died.

Prop Anderson, who was 83, played 10 matches for the All Blacks on the tour of Australia and South Africa, scoring two tries against Western Australia.

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Nick Phipps

Nick Phipps of the Waratahs was outstanding on cover defence.

We’ve got the Super Rugby final we wanted as a tantalising entree to the Bledisloe Cup.

Through the whims of the skewed draw, the Crusaders and Waratahs bypassed each other in the regular season but will slug it out on Saturday for the title as the best side in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Tahs have lost 11 on the bounce against the Crusaders since 2004 yet this season there is more spine about them and more collective heat they can generate although that could be more of the hot air which is generated in the guise of objectivity across the Ditch.

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Users: MacroBull, superBul, robzim, grootblousmile, nortierd, 12 Guests, 14 Bots

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Recent Comments

  • MacroBull 29 Jul 2014, 18:40 SAST - @ robzim: I remember reading commentary for the Sharks vs Kings game a few weeks ago and Mcdonalds name was...
  • MacroBull 29 Jul 2014, 18:39 SAST - Kings will be the team to watch in the Currie Cup, these guys have been playing together for a while...
  • nortierd 29 Jul 2014, 18:36 SAST - @ robzim: Agree, very nice side....I already have a bad feeling about next Friday
  • robzim 29 Jul 2014, 18:22 SAST - Not too bad a team.Should be interesting to see how Gary van Aswegen develops under Spencer and if he can...
  • IAAS 29 Jul 2014, 17:59 SAST - @ ryecatcher: Yeah, that's what I always say. Next year is going to be different. I feel your pain. I...
  • nortierd 29 Jul 2014, 17:30 SAST - Talk about a hospital job, poor Serge, guess he can't do worse with those of headless chickens

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