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World Rugby Sevens SeriesWith Wellington now but a distant memory, the Sydney leg of the Sevens World Series took place this weekend, with new significance.

There had been 3 different champions in the 3 tournaments prior to this weekend – Fiji in Dubai, South Africa in Cape Town and New Zealand in Wellington.

South Africa started the weekend with a 2-point advantage over Fiji on top of the World Rugby Sevens Series Log standings.

New Zealand won the Final of the Sydney Sevens, beating hosts Australia by 27 / 24, again in the dying seconds of the game, to take the Title and earn back to back wins in the World Rugby Sevens Series.

Three teams are now equal on the Points Log for the World Rugby Sevens Series 2015 – 2016, namely South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand, all on 69 Log Points. In 4th and 5th places on the Log are Australia and Argentina, both on 54 Log Points.

With only 6 Series tournaments left before the teams head to the Olympic Games, a lot of talk, understandably, are on Rio.

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Super RugbySANZAR is about to introduce a radical new bonus point system to this year’s Super Rugby competition, with teams no longer getting the bonus point for scoring 4 tries.

The radical proposal, which mirrors a system being used in the French top 14, will now see teams needing to score at least 3 more tries than the opposition to score a bonus point.

The change, which is set to be announced on Thursday in Australia, is a tweak to still encourage teams to play attractive rugby in lopsided contests, and give both sides something to play for, while not taking their foot off the pedal if they have established a good lead in their respective games.

Thus if a team scores 4 tries, they will need to limit the opposition to 1 try if they want the bonus point. If the opposition scores twice, then the team will need to score 5 tries in order to claim the bonus point in the competition.

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Todd Blackadder

Todd Blackadder

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has taken a swipe at the SANZAR brains trust over their proposed Super Rugby innovations.

He called the proposed changes to the Super Rugby bonus point system “bizarre” and suggested there was a lack of consultation with franchises on the matter.

The SANZAR initiative, that is expected to formally unveiled early next week, also include a number of minor law variations for the 2016 Super Rugby season.

While some of the expected law innovations still require World Rugby approval, the biggest innovation – a change to the try-scoring bonus points – is what has caused the biggest stir.

The SANZAR change will see the bonus point awarded to teams who score 4 tries or more in a game scrapped and replaced by 1 for teams that score 3 tries more than their opponents.

Blackadder called the proposed change “bizarre” and queried the lack of consultation with franchises on the matter.

The mooted change, widely reported by media in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand on Thursday, is a copy of the system used in the French Top 14 league and aimed at keeping lopsided games alive for longer periods.

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Southern KingsThe Southern Kings have confirmed a number of new signings following a week of intensive training with the SA Rugby Mobi Unit.

Chief Operating Officer, Charl Crous, confirmed that Pumas flanker, Chris Cloete, (24) and Sharks Lock John-Charles (JC) Astle (25) had been secured on loan for the season.

Following initial trials, Crous also confirmed the Southern Kings have also retained the talent of SWD utility back Leighton Eksteen (21) who has played at Scrumhalf, Flyhalf and Fullback, as well as SWD’s Luzuko Vulindlu (28) who has played at Centre and Wing. Both have been secured on loan from SWD for the season.

Sharks Centre Lukhanyo Am (22) has also secured a position in the squad on loan.

Crous said Sharks hooker, Monde Hadebe (25) would be returning to the Sharks for rehab following a slight back sprain that will see him out of action for between 4 to 5 weeks.

Crous also confirmed hooker Martin Ferreira (26) and lock, Tazz Fuzani (25) had been secured on contract for the Southern Kings season for 2016.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks’ 5 missing international players — away in Japan completing their club duties — are expected back in Durban before the end of the month.

New vice-captain Marcell Coetzee, JP Pietersen, Namibian backrower Renaldo Bothma and new signings Willie le Roux and Jacques Potgieter will join the Sharks squad a week before they leave on their pre-season tour of France early in February.

A member of the Sharks management yesterday said that the squad to travel to France would be announced next week and a decision on whether the Japan-based players would be included for the 2 friendlies has still to be made.

The Sharks will play 2-time European champs Toulon on Friday 5 February, before taking on Toulouse 6 days later.

New Cell C Sharks captain Pat Lambie said that it was likely that all the tour members would be given an airing during the 2 games but added that taking on the 2 Top 14 French clubs would be a major challenge.

Head coach Gary Gold said he wanted tough opposition for his young charges ahead of a fresh season.

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Andy Marinos

Andy Marinos

New SANZAR CEO Andy Marinos has backed South Africa’s Southern Kings and Japan’s Sunwolves to cause upsets in Super Rugby 2016.

The Southern Kings have at least played a season of Super Rugby before, while the Sunwolves are making their debut as the competition expands to accommodate a side each from Japan and Argentina as well as an extra South African side.

The EP Kings’ serious financial troubles over the past few months have raised questions over their fanchise participation in the competition, but the Sunwolves have not yet named a head coach for the season while they also do not have a full player roster.

But Marinos was a voice of calm on Wednesday morning, backing the Japanese franchise to get their ducks in a row before the tournament begins at the end of February.

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RedsThe Reds have confirmed a 37-man senior squad for the 2016 Super Rugby season, with 8 fresh faces in total joining the ranks at Ballymore.

In addition to the high-profile signings of Kane Douglas, Ayumu Goromaru, Cadeyrn Neville and NRL winger Eto Nabuli – the Reds also spent the off-season promoting from within the ranks of Queensland Rugby’s pathways with flyhalf Sam Greene and outside backs Junior Laloifi and Izaia Perese earning contracts following their performances in Queensland Premier Rugby and the National Rugby Championship (NRC). They are joined by Australian Under 20 lock Lukhan Tui, who grew up in Sydney.

In all, 20 players were retained from the 2015 Super Rugby squad, 11 of which were off contract and re-signed with the Reds, including Liam Gill, Greg Holmes, James Slipper and Rob Simmons.

In addition to that, the Reds have further progressed the careers of 8 members of its Elite Development Squad, promoting them to the Reds Senior Squad for the 2016 season.

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Andy Marinos

Andy Marinos

SANZAR has appointed Andy Marinos as the organisation’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

His new job will formally commence on 1 January 2016 and he replaces Greg Peters – who is taking over as CEO of the new Argentina Super Rugby team.

The South African, who is no stranger to the position, having previously served as CEO between 2008 – 2010, brings a wealth of business and rugby experience to the role, both as an administrator and professional player.

Marinos re-joins SANZAR from SARU, where he has served as General Manager of Commercial & Marketing for the past 5 years, in addition to SARU Acting Managing Director and Board Member (2008 – 2010), Springbok Team Manager (2008), Manager of South African National Teams (2005 – 2010) and World Rugby Sevens Advisory Group (2008 – 2015).

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Barbarians Rugby - Victor Matfield & Bakkies Botha

The world’s most famous invitation club, the Barbarians, will aim to entertain when they celebrate their 125th year of existence.

The BaaBaas will host a strong Argentinean Los Pumas team at Twickenham on Saturday.

However, coach Michael Cheika’s message to his Barbarians team was simple.

“Keep it simple, have a go and back yourselves,” Cheika told the BaaBaas players.

Argentina have a slightly different focus.

Having finished 3rd in The Rugby Championship – the 1st time hey did not finish last – and 4th in the Rugby World Cup, they hope to finish their year on a winning note.

Wing Santiago Cordero, 1 of the sensations for the Pumas at the Rugby World up, said it is going to be a “pretty tough” game.

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Lima Sopoaga

Lima Sopoaga

Amongst the Super Rugby news this week is the announcement that Tanerau Latimer will return to Super Rugby and join up with the Blues.

Lima Sopoaga has also extended his stay at the Highlanders.

Meanwhile the Brumbies will lose Matt Toomua to Leicester Tigers when the European season of 2016 / 2017 starts after Super Rugby of 2016, but therefore he will still be available for the Brumbies in 2016. The Brumbies have also signed hooker Robbie Abel with the Brumbies’ Extended Playing Squad for 2016.

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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika

Australian Wallabies coach Michael Cheika insisted Monday he had no interest in taking over the vacant England position, as he joined a growing list of high-profile figures in ruling himself out as a successor to Stuart Lancaster.

Last week saw Lancaster quit as England coach, as he paid the price for a poor Rugby World Cup, which saw England become the 1st host nation to fail to get out of the group phase.

“No one from there (England’s governing Rugby Football Union) has contacted me and they know they can’t contact me because I am committed to Australia,” Cheika, who led the Wallabies to last month’s Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham Stadium, said.

“That’s where I want to be coaching.”

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AustraliaAustralia will embark on their 10th ‘Grand Slam’ tour in 2016, aiming to beat the Home Nations in 1 trip for the 1st time in 30 years.

After falling to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham Stadium in London earlier this month, the Wallabies will return to the northern hemisphere next year for a 7-match, 5-Test tour, including France.

“The ‘Grand Slam’ is 1 of the rarest achievements in the game and has been a notoriously difficult one for the Wallabies over time, with only 1 successful attempt out of 9,” Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver said.

The last time the Wallabies pulled off the feat was in 1984. In their most recent attempt, in 2013, Australia opened with a loss to England before defeating Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as Italy.

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Tomás Cubelli

Tomás Cubelli

The Brumbies have announced Argentine scrumhalf Tomás Cubelli will be joining the Canberra-based Super Rugby team on a 2-year deal.

Cubelli is a member of the Argentine national team and has been a standout player for Los Pumas this year including a number of strong performances in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Cubelli has 45 Test caps, the most recent being the 3rd-place playoff at the Rugby World Cup against South Africa, in which he started at scrumhalf for Los Pumas.

Brumbies CEO Michael Jones said Cubelli was presented a number of options after a very successful international season, including the new Argentinian Super Rugby side which will boast 21 of their Rugby World Cup semifinal squad, and was very happy to have secured the international star.

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Steve Tew

Steve Tew

New Zealand Rugby chief Steve Tew said it was premature to speculate about Japan joining The Rugby Championship.

The sport is currently on a high in the Asian nation after the Brave Blossoms’ exploits at the Rugby World Cup, which included a stunning 34 / 32 win over South Africa, but there are already concerns about its preparations for the expanded Super Rugby competition next year.

With Japan set to host the next edition of the Rugby World Cup in 2019, World Rugby is keen to consolidate its popularity in a large and potentially lucrative market.

The governing body’s chairman Bernard Lapasset said on a trip to Tokyo this week that Japan should join The Rugby Championship, which currently comprises New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina.

But New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said a more immediate concern for Japanese rugby was fielding a competitive side in the Super Rugby competition in 2016.

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Richie Arnold

Richie Arnold

Perth based Super Rugby franchise the Western Force have signed Queensland Country lock Richie Arnold adding size to their forward pack for 2016.

Arnold’s identical twin, lock Rory Arnold is at the Brumbies.

Richie stands at a towering 2,08m and weighs 127Kg – 7Kg heavier than his brother.

The 25-year-old would rank as the equal 2nd tallest player in Super Rugby history, alongside his brother and former Stormers lock, Andries Bekker, and only behind Lions lock JP du Preez (2,09m) – will join the Force as part of the club’s Wider Training Squad, as he looks to push for his Super Rugby debut in 2016.

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Morné Steyn

Morné Steyn

Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn has extended his contract with French Top 14 club Stade Francais by a further 2 years.

The 31-year-old joined the Paris-based club from the Vodacom Bulls in 2013 and now looks set to finish his career in France.

Steyn was part of the Springbok squad at the recent Rugby World Cup, but received limited game time, with Handré Pollard and Pat Lambie ahead of him in the flyhalf pecking order.

Steyn, who made his Springbok debut in 2009, has 60 Test caps to his name.

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight

Ed Jenkins will lead an experienced Australian Sevens team in the Oceania regional Olympic qualifying tournament in Auckland this coming weekend – 14 and 15 November.

Interim coach Tim Walsh named an extended 15-man squad that includes veterans Jesse Parahi and Con Foley.

Pama Fou, Greg Jeloudev and Henry Hutchinson offer pace out wide.

Wallaby Henry Speight, recently returned from 2015 Rugby World Cup duty, will also travel with the squad for the trip to New Zealand.

Tom Cusack has been rewarded for a series of powerful performances during the recent Central Coast Sevens with a spot in the squad and star centre Cameron Clark returns after a minor hamstring problem.

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Springboks vs All Blacks

Durban, and not Johannesburg, will host back-to-back Rugby World Cup winners, the New Zealand All Blacks next year.

The South African Rugby Union revealed that the 3-times Rugby World Cup champion All Blacks will play the Springboks in Durban on 8 October in The Rugby Championship encounter between the 2 sides on SA soil.

The Springboks and All Blacks have played each other in Johannesburg 5 times in the last 6 years – with 2011 the exception, when they met in Port Elizabeth.

Durban last hosted a Springboks versus All Blacks Test in 2009, with Newlands completely off the map (for the biggest face-off in the game) since 2008.

The exceptionally large All Black following in Cape Town, which have become increasingly vengeful towards the Springboks (even spitting at players), is the main reason why Newlands will not host the All Blacks in the near future.

Bloemfontein (2009) and Pretoria (2006) have also not seen an All Black Test in years.

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James Slipper

James Slipper

The Reds will need a new captain for the start of the 2016 Super Rugby season as Wallabies Rugby World Cup prop James Slipper will have surgery in the off season.

Slipper has returned to Australia from England and will see surgeon Phil Duke to sort out a shoulder issue that has been troubling him for several seasons.

The new Super Rugby season begins in 14 weeks and the Reds start the new season with a match against the Waratahs in Sydney on 27 February.

Minor shoulder surgery will rule him out of the opening Rounds of the season while a full shoulder reconstruction could keep him out until April or May.

In his absence the Reds captaincy could go to vice-captain and Wallabies lock Rob Simmons or flanker Liam Gill.

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Kane Douglas down injured in the Final against the All Blacks

Kane Douglas down injured in the Final against the All Blacks

Wallabies lock Kane Douglas faces surgery on his injured left knee this week after MRI scans confirmed he sustained a ruptured ACL during Australia’s World Cup Final against New Zealand.

The 26-year-old injured his knee when he fell awkwardly just 15 minutes into the decider and took no further part in the match.

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Ayumu Goromaru

Ayumu Goromaru

Japan’s Rugby World Cup hero Ayumu Goromaru will join the Reds after signing with the club for the 2016 Super Rugby season.

The 29-year-old fullback became a household name in Japan and turned the rugby world on its head last month when he led his nation’s shock 34 / 32 win over South Africa – with the match being described as the biggest upset in Rugby World Cup history.

Goromaru scored 24 points in that match and twice received Man-Of-The-Match honours at the tournament. He has since been labeled a ‘national hero’ in Japan after spearheading his nation’s Rugby World Cup campaign in which they secured a record 3 wins.

The 2016 season will be Goromaru’s 1st in Super Rugby. He has spent his entire professional career playing in Japan’s Top League, while also forging an impressive Test Rugby résumé, with 56 Test caps and 708 points – making him Japan’s all-time leading points scorer.

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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika

Rugby World Cup finalists the Wallabies must improve rather than hope the All Blacks drop their lofty standards if they are to overhaul the triple champions, coach Michael Cheika said.

The Australians arrived home during the morning after losing 17 / 34 to the All Blacks in last weekend’s final at Twickenham Stadium.

While the Wallabies have regained respect and more followers in their own country after their Rugby World Cup exploits, Cheika warned his team had to do better if they are to reach the summit of world rugby.

The All Blacks became the 1st team to win 3 Rugby World Cups, but face a breakup with a string of international retirements headed by World Player of the Year Dan Carter along with Test centurions Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock and Ma’a Nonu as well as centre Conrad Smith.

Skipper Richie McCaw, rated by coach Steve Hansen as the greatest All Black, is also undecided about his playing future.

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Mourad Boudjellal & Quade Cooper

Mourad Boudjellal & Quade Cooper

Australian flyhalf Quade Cooper reported for duty at European champions Toulon on Tuesday, having negotiated a special contract clause so he can play in the Olympics next year.

The 27-year-old flyhalf apologised to Toulon fans for the extended negotiations that even last week appeared compromised because of doubts about his international future.

“It has been a drawn-out process and I apologise for that,” Cooper told a press conference alongside Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal.

Australia’s selection rules only allow foreign-based players to be chosen if they have 60 caps. Cooper has 58 but made only 1 Rugby World Cup appearance because of the hot form of Bernard Foley.

Cooper said the 1st version of his Toulon contract did not mention being freed for national games, but it was renegotiated. Boudjellal said, and “if he is called he will be immediately freed.”

Cooper said the talks with Boudjellal had focused on allowing him to go to the Olympics in Rio next August when Sevens rugby will be played for the 1st time.

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Nehe Milner-Skudder

Nehe Milner-Skudder

New Zealand and Australia’s World Cup finalists join forces in a superstar Barbarians’ squad when they take on Gloucester and Argentina this month. Add a sprinkling of South Africans to it and you have the Barbarians squad.

Wing Nehe Milner-Skudder, the All Blacks’ opening try scorer in the 34 / 17 win against the Wallabies, is just 1 of 7 All Blacks in the squad.

Milner-Skudder will be joined by Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Charlie Faumuina, as well as fellow wing Waisake Naholo, when the world famous invitation club returns to action at Kingsholm on 17 November before taking on Rugby World Cup semifinalists Argentina in the Killik Cup match at Twickenham Stadium on 21 November.

Tevita Kuridrani – the scorer of Australia’s 2nd final try – has been added to the squad and joins Wallabies captain Stephen Moore and flank Scott Fardy in a 24-man group.

The squad also contains one of the world’s greatest lock partnerships in South Africa’s Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha who are backed up by rising star Lood de Jager.

Barbarians head coach Michael Cheika will have formidable firepower at his disposal with the likes of Fiji’s World Cup star Nemani Nadolo lining up with South Africa’s Pat Lambie and Australia’s Joe Tomane.

There is world class front row potential with Moore and Faumuina alongside South Africa’s Tendai Mtawarira, while flank Fardy was 1 of Australia’s most consistent Rugby World Cup performers.

There are 2 uncapped players in the squad: Cheetahs’ centre Francois Venter and Hurricanes flank Ardie Savea.

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World RugbyAs well as winning a host of new admirers for their adventurous approach throughout Rugby World Cup 2015, beaten semifinalists Argentina and headline-grabbing Japan have also enjoyed the biggest rise of all the competing nations in the World Rugby Rankings. Both are ranked 3 places higher than where they were when Rugby World Cup 2015 began at Twickenham Stadium on Friday 18 September.Los Pumas have moved up from 8th to 5th thanks to their 2nd place finish behind New Zealand in Pool C and the way that they effortlessly brushed Ireland aside in the quarterfinals.

A disappointing World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup campaign this summer left Japan languishing 13th in the rankings, and at that stage few people would have predicted what they would go on to achieve in England: 3 wins from 4 and a place in tournament folklore.

The Brave Blossoms’ historic 34 / 32 win over South Africa in Brighton may not have been enough to book them a place in the knockout stages but it did help them return to the world’s Top 10.

With points exchanges doubled to reflect the importance Rugby World Cup matches no-one fared better than Japan, going from 72.06 rating points pre-tournament to 77.05 at its conclusion.

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All Blacks celebrate winningOne of the things that this recently completed Rugby World Cup should have done is put an end to some of the justifications that are perennially forwarded for percentage tactics and neglect of the skill sets and strategies that the 2 finalists boasted and employed in their passage to the Twickenham Stadium decider.

For a start, what happened to that wet weather everyone was talking about and which was supposed to a justification for grinding tactics? It rained in the semifinal between South Africa and New Zealand, where the Kiwis proved once again that they are just as good at the things that the Springboks are supposed to do well as they are.

The tournament was of course not played in the English winter. In fact, you could argue that this year it wasn’t played even in autumn, particularly early on, when cities and towns like Brighton, Birmingham and Newcastle had more of a feel of late summer than a feel of early autumn.

That, coupled with the fact that so many of the Pool games were played on fast paced surfaces built for soccer, tipped the scales towards the quick paced Southern Hemisphere style game. When Wales coach Warren Gatland was asked why the Southern Hemisphere nations shut their northern rivals out of the semifinal Round, he mentioned something about conditions south of the equator facilitating the development of more of a running rugby skill set.

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Dan Carter, World Rugby Player of the Year 2015

Dan Carter, World Rugby Player of the Year 2015

Dan Carter has been named World Rugby Player of the Year 2015 in association with MasterCard during a star-studded World Rugby Awards ceremony at Battersea Evolution in London on Sunday.

Flyhalf Carter joins his All Blacks captain Richie McCaw as a 3-time recipient of the prestigious accolade, having also been named Player of the Year in 2005 and 2012, and follows in the footsteps of other previous winners such as Thierry Dusautoir, Bryan Habana and Jonny Wilkinson.

New Zealand was named World Rugby Team of the Year after becoming the 1st nation to successfully defend the Webb Ellis Cup with a 34 / 17 defeat of Australia in the Rugby World Cup 2015 final on Saturday.

Australia coach Michael Cheika received the World Rugby Coach of the Year accolade after transforming the Wallabies in his 12 months at the helm, guiding them to The Rugby Championship title and the Rugby World Cup 2015 final.

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All Blacks celebrate the RWC 2015 win

All Blacks celebrate the RWC 2015 win

The New Zealand All Blacks withstood a gutsy AustralianWallabies fightback to claim victory 34 / 17 in the Rugby World Cup final and create history as the 1st side to win 3 titles, the last 2 back-to-back.

The All Blacks were given a Halloween night fright by the Wallabies, who battled their way back from 21 / 3 with 2 tries to get within 4 points of Richie McCaw’s side at 21 / 17.

But the cool boot of man of the match, Dan Carter, nudged the All Blacks ahead to give them breathing space at 27 / 17, before Beauden Barrett sealed matters with a length-of-the-field kick and chase in the 79th minute, converted by – who else? – Carter for a 34 / 17 final scoreline.

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New ZealandAustraliaAll Blacks (16) 34 / 17 (3) Wallabies (Final Score)

The New Zealand All Blacks and Australian Wallabies did battle in the 2015 Rugby World Cup FINAL at

Twickenham Stadium, London, England at 18:00 SA Time (16:00 UK Time, 16:00 GMT, Sunday 03:00 AEDT, Sunday 05:00 NZ Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

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

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World RugbyWorld Rugby has announced the shortlist for the prestigious Player of the Year 2015 Award in association with MasterCard, which will be presented at the World Rugby Awards at Battersea Evolution in London on 1 November.

Following a stellar of year for international rugby, which will culminate with Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final, the shortlist features a world-class line-up of players who have excited and inspired fans around the world with their feats this year. Rugby World Cup 2015 finalists New Zealand and Australia both have 2 nominees and Wales and Scotland 1 each.

The 2015 nominees are: Dan Carter (New Zealand), Michael Hooper (Australia), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Greig Laidlaw (Scotland), David Pocock (Australia) and Julian Savea (New Zealand).

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Red Arrows

On 31 October, 9 of the iconic aircraft will treat fans in Twickenham Stadium, as well as the Richmond and Trafalgar Square fanzones, to a special flypast prior to the start of the final between New Zealand and Australia. They will flyover Trafalgar Square 7 minutes before kick-off, then over Twickenham Stadium and the Richmond Fanzone at 15:55 as the teams line up for the anthems.

 

Full House:

The finalists are set to battle it out for rugby’s greatest prize, the Webb Ellis Cup, in front of a sell-out crowd of 80 125. South Africa and Argentina will also go head to head in front of a full house in the Bronze final at The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – in front of 56 000 spectators.

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AustraliaFirst-choice prop Scott Sio returns to the Australian Wallabies side for the Rugby World Cup final against the New Zealand All Blacks on Saturday.

It is the only change to the side announced by coach Michael Cheika.

Sio has recovered from an elbow injury and James Slipper, who played in the semifinal win over Argentina, returns to the bench.

Australia, who have had a tough route to Twickenham – having to play England, Wales, Scotland and Argentina – will be in a record-breaking 4th Rugby World Cup Final.

However, it will be the 1st between the Wallabies and the All Blacks.

Matt Giteau, who left the semifinal with a groin injury but has been cleared for Saturday, is the only player who took part in their last Final – when they lost to England in Sydney in 2003.

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