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Argentina Rugby

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Aaron Cruden photographed with two bar staff at The Zookeeper's Son on Saturday night.

Aaron Cruden photographed with two bar staff at The Zookeeper’s Son on Saturday night.

First-five Aaron Cruden will miss matches against Argentina and South Africa after a late night drinking incident.

Aaron Cruden was found keeping his head down at his Hamilton home today – over 10,000 kilometres away from his All Blacks team-mates – after he was kicked off the trip to Argentina for having a late night drinking session in Auckland.

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Matthew Burke

Matthew Burke

The school term has finished and the report cards have been dispatched.

This makes it as good a time as any to deliver a summary on how the Wallabies have fared since Ewen McKenzie took over the top job 14 months ago.

Record wise, the Wallabies are on an impressive run, winning 11 of their past 12 games, but the goal has to be to win against the top nations, South Africa and the All Blacks.

They have achieved one of those two desired outcomes.

Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons I have observed during the opening stages of the McKenzie era:

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SuperBruOnly 4 points separated the All Blacks from the Bokke in Wellington, but, as expected, New Zealand were the victors.

Australia managed a 7 point win against the Pumas so there were no surprises for Round 4 of the Rugby Championship.

There we many positives to be taken out of the game from a South African perspective, the biggest being the form of Handré Pollard playing in his first real big Test.

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Sparse Crowd

Empty spaces – Yet another sparse crowd has the ARU concerned.

On a humid morning in February, Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver took the microphone and made the extraordinary declaration that 2014 was the year of the Waratahs.

Not a ball had been kicked, no one knew which Kurtley Beale would turn up in round one and, though they boasted the best and most expensive playing roster in the country, this was the Waratahs, after all.

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Will Skelton

Concerns over Will Skelton’s fitness ensured he will be left behind from Wallabies tour.

Will Skelton is already triple-XL. The challenge is ensuring his supersub role doesn’t lead to another “X” or two, according to Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie.

Concerns about dwindling fitness as a bench specialist, and the linked issue of not being a lineout jumper, were on Wednesday identified as the reasons behind Skelton being left out of the Wallabies’ squad to tour South Africa and Argentina next week.

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Spiro Zavos

Spiro Zavos

When Steve Hansen says the laws of rugby need to be revised, modified and made easier to play, to referee, and to understand, the rugby world should take notice.

The All Blacks under Hansen’s adroit coaching are in an era even more golden than previous great eras.

They are not only playing winning rugby, they are playing rugby the way it is supposed to be played – with courage, physical strength, high skills and the intent to score tries while stopping opponents from doing so.

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Will Genia

Recall: playmaker Will Genia has been named in the touring squad for the Wallabies’ trips to South Africa and Argentina.

Will Genia and Benn Robinson have been called up to the injury-hit Wallabies for their two-week tour of South Africa and Argentina.

With no less than 13 players ruled out through injury, McKenzie has turned to two assured Test performers to boost the Wallabies for two tough Tests on the road.

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Malakai Fekitoa

HARD RUNNING: Malakai Fekitoa brings a quick-stepping style to the All Blacks midfield.

Malakai Fekitoa seems set to start for the All Blacks at second five-eighth in Argentina next week with Ryan Crotty still working his way back to fitness after a facial fracture.

Crotty was expected to recover for the test against the Pumas in La Plata next week, but would instead make his return in the NPC with Canterbury and join the All Blacks for the Rugby Championship finale against the Springboks at Ellis Park on October 4.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

What a difference a week makes…

 

The Rugby Championship:

We saw 2 very good test matches, particularly the All Blacks vs Springboks game, played in the Cake Tin.

It was played at tempo for the duration of the match and was superbly refereed by Jerome Garces. Chalk and cheese between what we saw last week.

He seemed to be able to make his decisions with ease, without pressure, and for the most part they were well timed, and accurate. He added huge value to a compelling test match which was deservedly won by the All Blacks.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw scores against the Springboks.

Thinus Delport acknowledged that New Zealand’s superior experience and mental strength was the difference as they earned a late victory.

He said: “It’s that winning mentality – not panicking, staying calm, making the right decisions.

That’s what it boils down to. One simple error at this level and the game changes.

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Tatafu Polota-Nau

No good: Ewen McKenzie talks to Tatafu Polota-Nau at halftime.

The Wallabies may have denied Argentina on the Gold Coast, but they could travel to South Africa without the man who helped make the 32-25 victory possible.

Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, whose assured set piece work helped deny the Pumas their customary scrum dominance in the first half at Cbus Stadium, has injured his left ankle and is in “serious doubt” for the Wallabies’ final two Tests of the Rugby Championship.

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AustraliaArgentinaWallabies (14) 32 / 25 (7) Los Pumas (Final Score)

The Australian Wallabies and Argentinian Pumas did battle in Round 4 of The Rugby Championship at

Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast at 12:00 SA Time (20:00 AEST, 07:00 ARG Time, 10:00 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 on TV in SA.

*******************

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SuperBruRound 3 of the Rugby Championship ended in heartbreak for the Springboks when they went down to Australia by 1 point in the final few minutes of what was not an entertaining match at all.

The referee, the yellow card to Bryan Habana, the failed touchfinder by Morné Steyn and various other reasons have already been dissected and discussed, so we won’t dwell on those.

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George Clancy

In the spotlight: George Clancy

SANZAR are looking to bring in a challenge system in order to combat refereeing errors, with each team allowed three per game.

Following in the footsteps of cricket and tennis, teams would be able to challenge a referee’s decision, while the TMO would be used only for these challenges, leaving the on-field referee to make the rest of the calls.

There are currently concerns that referees are hiding behind their TMOs at the moment, rather than making their own decisions, and the official in charge would now be responsible for deciding on tries and incidents of foul play.

The news comes after a weekend where both Rugby Championship games featured controversial refereeing decisions, with Argentina denied a perfectly good try when Pascal Gauzère called a knock-on on a charge-down from Leonardo Senatore.

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ArgentinaArgentina have dumped both their starting wingers as they aim for a maiden Rugby Championship victory on Saturday night against the Wallabies on the Gold Coast.

The Pumas have made three changes to the run-on side which fell 28-9 to the All Blacks last weekend, with suspended lock Tomas Lavanini replaced by the youthful Matias Alemanno in the only alteration to their powerful forward pack.

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Tony Johnson

Tony Johnson

The Rugby Championship is, many would argue, the pre-eminent event of its type outside the World Cup.

It may lack the history, and maybe even some of the ingrained tribalism of the Six Nations, but more often than not since 1996 it has featured the top three ranked teams in the world, and many of the best players on the planet.

It has produced some of the most thrilling, spectacular matches ever played, in front of some of the biggest crowds ever to watch the sport.

It is an elite showcase of the game, and it deserves better than what we saw at the weekend.

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WhistleIt has been widely acknowledged that the standard of refereeing in the Rugby Championship this past weekend was less than stellar. All lovers of the game, from fans through to coaches and players, are justifiably exasperated by such result-affecting calls by refs.

Sadly, this is not the first time and, probably, won’t be the last time the rugby world is incensed by sub-standard refereeing performances – unless something proactive is done to address what is a very real problem.

What is missing in all the blustery huffing and puffing though, are solutions or suggestions that the IRB (or World Rugby) can use to address the problem.

So here are my suggestions. My solutions. As just a passionate lover of the sport. See if you agree or disagree. Pick them apart. Point out their weaknesses. Tell me why they won’t work. No hard feelings. All I ask is that for every criticism, you offer an alternative solution.

Hopefully with all the traffic Rugby Talk.com is attracting these days, someone of influence will read all our comments and maybe… just maybe… do something positive with them.

I believe a three-part solution will sort out most of the issues but, like anything, there has to be the political will to address and sort out the problem instead of worrying about offending egos or apportioning blame.

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AustraliaWaratahs hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau will play his 50th Test after being named for the Wallabies to start against Argentina in his first match since the Super Rugby final.

Polota-Nau injured the medial ligament in his right knee in the Waratahs’ historic title win five weeks ago and has been gunning for a comeback ever since, joining the Wallabies 10 days ago to finish his rehabilitation in camp.

He made it through a contact session on the weekend, ran with the side at training on Monday before being named to start on Tuesday in his 50th Test appearance and his first Test since the Wallabies’ final triumph against France in June.

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Jerome Garces

Jerome Garces

France’s Jérôme Garcès will referee the All Blacks v Springboks Rugby Championship clash in Wellington on Saturday.

Following a weekend of highly debatable referee, assistant referee and TMO decisions, Heyneke Meyer will be hoping Saturday’s crucial clash is free of controversy.

The Springboks’ remaining Rugby Championship matches will be refereed by Wales’ Nigel Owens (v Australia at Newlands on 27 September) and by England’s Wayne Barnes (v New Zealand at Ellis Park on 4 October).

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Tatafu Polota-Nau

Tatafu Polota-Nau

Injury-plagued hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau is set for a shock Wallabies starting return to quell an improved Argentinian outfit closing in on a maiden Rugby Championship victory.

Polota-Nau, without a game for six weeks, will Tuesday be named as one of three changes to Australia’s line-up for Saturday night’s clash on the Gold Coast.

While coach Ewen McKenzie is poised to promote winger Peter Betham and back-rower Ben McCalman, to replace injured stalwarts Adam Ashley-Cooper and Wycliff Palu, he could have easily eased Polota-Nau back on the bench.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

Do I really need to confirm what everyone else already knows… This was not a good weekend for referees!

We are operating in a system where I have said that these type of weekends are not avoidable and until key elements of the system are exposed, and then adequately addressed, this will continue into the future.

The referees are not getting it right, and it is pointless saying after the fact, that things need to be looked at, when the writing was on the wall from the get go.

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Greg Growden

Greg Growden

The Wallabies have at last beaten someone perched above them in the world rankings.

It has taken awhile.

But if the Australian players and management seriously start believing they are back on track then it’s time for them to take some ‘truth pills’.

Their one-point win over the Springboks was deeply flawed, exposed many of their inherent weaknesses including a lack of discipline, and showed their fundamental skills are at best average.

The Wallabies can also no longer carry on about being a luckless team, as they received the benefit of a string of dreadful decisions from referee George Clancy, who should have his whistle confiscated after such a diabolical performance. The Springboks have every right to cry foul as they were victims of numerous Clancy blunders.

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Rose Kupa

ROSE KUPA: Expected a ‘harsher rap’.

The streaker who disrupted Napier’s first All Blacks test in almost two decades sparked security concerns and soured an otherwise “outstanding” event the city’s leaders hope to repeat.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen labelled 25-year-old streaker Rose Kupa’s antics “a pain in the backside” after Saturday’s test match, while Israel Dagg laughed off the slap on the bum Kupa gave him as she dashed past.

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The Rugby Chamionship(Revised)

Will Genia and Joe Tomane will join the Wallabies but Henry Speight’s Test start will have to wait, as Australia begin preparations to face an improved Argentina on the Gold Coast this week.

It is understood Genia is some way off his Test return but will be brought into the training squad this week, along with Tomane and Rebels centre Tom English, after playing in the National Rugby Championship on Saturday.

But in a disappointing development over the weekend, Speight will remain in Canberra after pulling out of an expected NRC appearance with a sore hamstring.

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The Rugby ChampionshipNew Zealand (13) 28 / 9 (6) Argentina

It was never going to be pretty, but the All Blacks will find plenty to admire when they look back on a 28-9 win over Argentina.

Steve Hansen’s side delivered enough to keep their coach smiling as they ran in four tries to remain unbeaten in this year’s Rugby Championship.

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Harden up

“You Pumas need to harden up”

After shaking up Argentina’s style of play for this year’s Rugby Championship, coach Daniel Hourcade is now working to improve his side’s mental toughness, captain Agustin Creevy said on Friday.

The Pumas, who meet New Zealand at McLean Park in Napier on Saturday, looked set to record their first win in the competition two weeks ago but slipped to a 33-31 defeat to South Africa.

Argentina had controlled the game for about 60 minutes before the Springboks stormed back from 28-16 down and won with a late Morne Steyn penalty.

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Agustin Creevy

Agustin Creevy

Argentina captain Agustin Creevy revealed on Friday a plan for fielding a full-strength international side when they join the southern hemisphere’s prestigious Super Rugby competition in 2016.

The move would rob European clubs of several leading players but would strengthen Argentina at Test level.

Super rugby organisers have already confirmed an Argentinian side will join the competition when it is expanded to 18 teams as the International Rugby Board pushes to expand the sport in South America.

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Horacio Agulla

LOW TACTICS: Pumas wing Horacio Agulla believes Argentina will need to tackle low if they are to beat the All Blacks.

Belief is a valuable commodity. When it comes to the Rugby Championship that mental barrier, more than any physical or skill disparity, is holding the Pumas back.

For the most part, Argentina’s set-piece laid a near exemplary platform in two narrow defeats against the Springboks. Similar dominance saw the All Blacks run up half a century against the Wallabies.

The Pumas should have claimed at least one victory over the Boks, but instead left Auckland for Napier yesterday still feeling the frustration of another missed opportunity.

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 Patrick Tuipolotu & Aaron Cruden & Steven Luatua

Patrick Tuipolotu (left), Aaron Cruden and Steven Luatua agree that fans’ support plays a vital role in the All Blacks’ success.

The last two tests have shown the highs and lows of All Blacks’ rugby. Paul Lewis talks to Aaron Cruden, Steven Luatua and Patrick Tuipolotu about expectations and pressure from fans from such polarising experiences.

Some time back in his tenure as All Black skipper, Tana Umaga was asked whether the All Blacks minded carrying so many public expectations every time they played. “No,” he shot back. “It helps us win.”

It seemed a good panel discussion topic to take up with three All Blacks, especially as they and filmmaker Taika Waititi will be engaged in a Rexona-inspired campaign entitled “Do More” – a call to arms to All Black fans to get behind their team during this championship and, especially, next year’s World Cup.

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Israel Dagg

LOVING THE MOMENT: Israel Dagg celebrates with Ihaia West and Brendon O’Connor of the Hawke’s Bay Magpies after winning the Ranfurly Shield against Counties Manukau Steelers last Saturday.

Home is where the heart is for Israel Dagg.

The 26-year-old has had plenty to smile about this past fortnight after helping Hawke’s Bay bring the Ranfurly Shield back to Napier.

It provided a welcome boost for a player who has been through a year of ups and downs, but it’s been off the field where Dagg’s home-coming has clearly restored his confidence.

“It’s been a good couple of weeks being home,” he said yesterday.

“I haven’t been back [to the Bay] for a while, so I’ve really enjoyed catching up with family and friends. I’ve been eating out [of the team hotel] every night with them all cooking me dinners, things like that, it’s been really good.”

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Beauden Barrett

COOL HEAD: Beauden Barrett is a picture of calmness as he poses on the Napier beachfront yesterday, ahead of the test against Argentina.

Replacing injured Aaron Cruden, Beauden Barrett is a promising starter in the No 10 jersey against Argentina.

It takes plenty to rattle Beauden Barrett.

The 23-year-old first five-eighth has forged a reputation for his calmness under pressure during his brief, but already impressive professional career.

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Richie McCaw

TRY TIME: Richie McCaw rises after scoring a try off the back of a maul in the All Blacks’ Eden Park test against the Wallabies.

The All Blacks have got the masters of the maul thinking hard, with Springboks bosses intrigued at New Zealand’s innovative and successful tactics with this crucial attacking weapon during the early phases of the Rugby Championship.

The big Boks packs have long set the standards in mauling, but assistant coach Johann van Graan has admitted intrigue over the way the All Blacks have developed the art as they displayed in demolishing the Wallabies at Eden Park.

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Argentina

MONSTER PACK: Argentina’s forward pack proved more than up to the task against the Springboks.

Twenty-two thousand fans might twist their necks towards the sky, but All Blacks No 8 Kieran Read is more likely to glare at Argentina’s forward pack before Saturday night’s test in Napier.

While southerlies and rain are forecast, Hawke’s Bay rugby supporters will hope the weather is clear to allow the All Blacks to unleash their backline at McLean Park.

Read knows the New Zealanders cannot do anything about the weather but can still rip the rug out from under the Pumas, and that starts with challenging the visitors’ celebrated scrum.

When All Blacks scrum coach Mike Cron watched the Pumas repeatedly demolish the South Africans’ scrum in their two recent encounters, he would have wasted little time in mapping out some training drills.

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ArgentinaArgentina on Thursday announced two changes for Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks as they chase their first win in the southern hemisphere competition.

Leonardo Senatore replaces the injured Paul Matera to slot in at the back of the scrum, joining veterans Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Juan Manuel Leguizamon in a rejigged loose trio.

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Recent Comments

  • NZINCHINA 22 Sep 2014, 07:37 SAST - @ nortierd: Cruden is still a world class 10 who has done the job for us superbly over the last...
  • nortierd 22 Sep 2014, 07:28 SAST - @ NZINCHINA: I also think Barrett is a better 10, but goal kicking will be key. Not against the Argies,...
  • NZINCHINA 22 Sep 2014, 07:26 SAST - @ nortierd: Very stupid, Barrett could take his chances again and with DC coming back he might be in for...
  • nortierd 22 Sep 2014, 07:22 SAST - @ NZINCHINA: He he, hence his "no comment" reaction. Was a very stupid thing to do, hope he learns his...
  • NZINCHINA 22 Sep 2014, 07:19 SAST - @ nortierd: Yes and what a fine try that was Norty, I read somewhere else the rest of the boys...
  • nortierd 22 Sep 2014, 07:16 SAST - 1 @ NZINCHINA: I do recall Jean running over Barrett on the way to his try.


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