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Australian Rugby

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Super RugbyIt is the Semi-Finals of Super Rugby 2014 this weekend! We have only the 2 Semi-Final games in this Round, as all the other 11 teams have now been dispatched. Both games take place on Saturday 27 July 2014.

It is crunch time, as only the winners advance to the Final on 2 August 2014.

The Crusaders and Waratahs host the Semi-Finals, as top contenders on the Combined Super Rugby Log. The challengers are the Cell C Sharks and the Brumbies, who have had to travel in order to see if they can advance against strong home ground advantage, for the Final.

Only 3 Super Rugby games for 2014 remain!

Bonus points for tries and losses within 7 now does not matter anymore, all that is needed is a win.

Let the games continue….

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Chloe Butler

Chloe in her Wallaroos outfit

IT’S far from the conventional route, but Chloe Butler had to lose her kit to wear a new one.

The former pin-up girl of the Lingerie Football League is part of Australia’s Wallaroos squad heading to France on Sunday to compete in the IRB Rugby World Cup.

And she insists it was lingerie football that got her here.

To see Chloe in her LFL outfit…..keep reading!

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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika – One of the more “colorful” characters in Super Rugby

From the Coogee stairs to the Super Rugby semis, with a smashed door, poker face and sideline stoush in between, it’s been one hell of a ride for the Waratahs under Michael Cheika.

The fiery coach has helped transform NSW from Super Rugby cellar dwellers to contenders, setting the wheels in motion by lighting a fuse under the underperforming Tahs when he took over the reins last year.

But it’s his second season at the helm that has been the real highlight, and not just because he’s helped steer the Waratahs to the Super Rugby minor premiership and within one win of the grand final.

Along the way the fiery former Randwick forward, renowned during his playing days for his aggressive play on field, has grabbed his share of headlines for some interesting off-field antics.

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South AfricaThe Sharks’ advancement to the Super Rugby semi-finals has meant the Springbok squad announcement for the upcoming Rugby Championship will be slightly delayed.

The SA Rugby Union on Wednesday announced that there are lingering injury concerns over certain players which will see the 30-man Springbok squad only be announced on Saturday 2  August.

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SuperBruSuper RugbyRugby-Talk’s SuperBru competition for the 2014 Super Rugby tournament is drawing to a close with only three matches remaining.

In last week’s Qualifying rounds JohnR earned the yellow cap with a solid 5 pointer moving him up 12 places to 31st. Carol still leads the pack of hungry wolves chasing at her heels, but refuses to relinquish her coveted 1st spot. Sharks_Lover is still a close second, with less than a point separating the two.

Both Winston Champ and Charo at 3 and 4 respectively have fallen slightly off the pace, with 3,5 and 5,2 points separating them from Carol.

Before making those SuperBru predictions, let’s have a look at some picks, tips and predictions first.

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Jake White

Is Jake already lining up his excuses?

Is Jake White trying to get his excuses in early should his Shark team lose against the Crusaders on Saturday?

If his tactics against the last placed SA conference side, the Cheetahs, hadn’t backfire and the Sharks were victorious, they would have had the week off and played the semi final at home.

Would he have complained about the format then?

When his Bok team won the 2007 World Cup they did so without having to face either the All Blacks or the Wallabies. White never complained about the format being skewed did he? No, he benefitted and rightly so, the rules are the rules.

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WaratahsBrumbiesIt’S the biggest Down Under derby in 12 years — but is the Waratahs vs Brumbies rivalry the biggest in Australian rugby full stop?

NSW vs Queensland has long been the marquee match-up for Aussie outfits, and with 140 years of tradition to back it up it’s little wonder.

But the battle between the Tahs and their “little brother” from down the road in the ACT might have trumped it in recent times.

Wallaby hooker Stephen Moore has the unique experience of playing the Waratahs both as a Reds player (from 2003-08) and now with the Brumbies.

Way back in 2009, when he had just arrived in Canberra, Moore observed of the Tahs-Brumbies enmity that: “it’s equally as big as the Queensland-NSW rivalry.”

And Wallabies great Stephen Larkham, a Brumbies legend as a player and well on his way to becoming one as a coach, reckons it’s gone even beyond equal status.

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Ewen McKenzie

Ewen McKenzie: Wallabies coach says an Australian team winning the Super Rugby title would be a real positive for his side’s Bledisloe Cup prospects

Ewen McKenzie says an Australian side winning the Super Rugby crown would be ”as good as it gets” for the Wallabies’ Bledisloe Cup prospects.

The Waratahs and Brumbies go head to head in a blockbuster semi-final at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, with the winners likely to take on New Zealand superpowers, the Crusaders, in the August 2 championship decider.

The Wallabies tackle the All Blacks two weeks later in the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship opener in Sydney.

“Form and confidence, they’re good attributes to have,” McKenzie said after announcing his 32-man Rugby Championship squad yesterday.

“If you’re out there beating your opponents and winning consistently – and that’s what these teams have been doing – and the Wallabies have been doing the same thing.”

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imageThe Brumbies have named an unchanged side for Saturday’s blockbuster Super Rugby semifinal against the NSW Waratahs.

It’s a huge boost for the underdog ACT side, who managed to survive last weekend’s bruising 32-30 knockout victory over the Chiefs in Canberra unscathed.

The past fortnight has seen a massive turnaround for the Brumbies, who only one month ago had their season put on life support when the red-hot Waratahs trounced their under-strength outfit 39-8.

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imageNothing beats a grudge game and the whiff of verbal cordite is swirling ahead of the Super rugby semifinal between the Waratahs and Brumbies.

The hostility is connected to the Wallabies test in Dublin last year when 15 players were disciplined for drinking and breaking curfew amid suspicions they were dobbed in by several of the Brumbies.

A number of the Tahs were intent on reprisal but bypassed any physical mischief when they easily won their round-robin contest last month 39-8. The Tahs are keen to imprint a physical message behind their determination to reach next week’s final.

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Brumbu Jack

Brumby Jack, merely a show pony, says Tah Man

Waratahs mascot Tah Man has weighed into the controversy over Brumby Jack’s presence at the Super Rugby semi-final, declaring Allianz Stadium a showpony-free zone this weekend.

As the Brumbies and Waratahs tried desperately to defuse the furore surrounding Brumby Jack’s sideline “ban”, the high-strung NSW mascot could not help fanning the fire. “I love animals and horses but I’m not a fan of showponies,” Tah Man told Fairfax Media.

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Rhys Ward

Rhys Ward- 300 matches and counting

“I would never dream of playing for another club, I love this place,” says Eastern Suburbs prop, Rhys Ward, when asked about his longevity at Woollahra Oval.

The 35-year-old carves out his own slice of Beasties’ history today when he turns out for the 300th time in the tricolour jersey, becoming only the second player in the illustrious history of the club to achieve such a feat.

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Henry Speight

FRESH FACE: Brumbies winger Henry Speight is the lone new name in the Wallabies squad for The Rugby Championship next month

AustraliaThe Wallabies formalised a tug of war victory over New Zealand rugby today, though from the All Blacks’ perspective ideally Henry Speight will not compromise the world champions’ Bledisloe Cup reign and defence of the Rugby Championship.

One cult figure of Australian rugby replaced another when Ewen McKenzie named a 32-man squad that predictably included the Fijian-born wing – although he cannot be picked for the tests against the All Blacks in Sydney and Auckland next month plus the Springboks in Perth on September 6.

The Hamilton Boys’ High School-educated finisher, who was approached to join the Chiefs in 2012 a year after making his Super Rugby debut for the Brumbies, is expected to make his test debut on September 13 against Argentina on the Gold Coast, two days after an IRB-imposed stand down expires.

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Tah Man

Tah Man will have the Allianz Stadium sidelines to himself

The Waratahs – Brumbies Super Rugby Semi-Final showdown has been robbed of one of its marquee match-ups, with reports that Brumby Jack has been “banned” from Saturday night’s encounter.

The iconic Brumbies mascot has, according to the Canberra Times, been denied a request to strut his stuff on the field and will instead have to be content with a seat alongside Brumbies supporters in the Allianz Stadium stands.

 

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The Samsung SlideLiner

The Samsung SlideLiner

Ever wondered what it would be like to cross rugby spectating with Gold Reef City? No? Well neither has anyone else, until Samsung Australia came up with an innovative an novel new way of watching rugby.

Samsung Electronics Australia will launch the SlideLiner, an exciting Samsung innovation to give Australian Rugby fans a money-can’t-buy seat between the grandstand and the pitch during three matches of the 2014 Rugby Championship.

The Samsung SlideLiner is a comfortable, four person ‘couch’ that will sit on tracks beside the pitch, following the action along the field of play as the Qantas Wallabies take on the All Blacks and Springboks in The Castrol Edge Rugby Championship 2014.

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Jacques Potgieter

Jacques Potgieter during training ahead of the semi final against the Brumbies

Jacques Potgieter will start at lock for the Waratahs in this weekend’s Super Rugby semi-final against the Brumbies but coach Michael Cheika thinks Will Skelton could be a matchwinner from the bench.

Hard-running former Springbok Potgieter has got the nod alongside Kane Douglas in the second row for Saturday’s match at Sydney Football Stadium, which will decide who faces the Canterbury Crusaders or South Africa’s Sharks in the final.

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Laurie Fisher

Laurie Fisher will move to the Aviva Premiership to coach Gloucester this season

For all the talk of players leaving Australian shores, the costliest exit may be Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher, who is bound for Gloucester next year. The Brumbies’ lineout, drive, scrum and defence against the relatively new Chiefs tactic of setting up mauls in general play were the difference in an outstanding qualifying final of tiny margins on Saturday. Not only that, but Fisher worked lineout miracles with emergency hooker Ruaidhri Murphy in the few short weeks since he understandably struggled against the Waratahs. Murphy was like Phil Taylor with his arrows when he came on for the closing stages, even hitting Ben Mowen at the tail of one set-piece. Brilliant work

We don’t always get to hear much about our top-level coaches these days, certainly not much beyond the usual ‘this bloke is rubbish’/’this bloke’s a genius’ debate, but often there are stories and insight to be provided that goes well beyond the standard clichés.

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CrusadersCell C SharksThe Waratahs and Crusaders will be heavily favoured to advance to a Sydney final, but the two Vodacom Super Rugby play-off qualifiers played this weekend did breathe some much needed life into a competition that is sometimes accused of being too predictable.

As expected, the home teams did advance to next week’s round of semifinals, but it was a close run thing in both Canberra and Durban. More than that, the quality of rugby produced, and the entertainment value, was just what the doctor would have ordered if the goal of a medical consultation was to find out what could increase interest for the remaining two weeks.

Of the two winning teams, the Brumbies and the Sharks, it is the former who should go into the semifinals feeling most upbeat. They relaxed when they thought they had the game won and the Chiefs showed their championship qualities one last time before eventually conceding their run of success had come to an end by launching a brave, gutsy and classy fightback.

Once condemned to playing catch-up, the Chiefs produced some of their best rugby in a while, and may well have won had they shown just a bit of temperance in their commitment to attack, for it was their tendency to concede penalties in their own half by trying to play too much rugby there that cost them the game.

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Tana Umaga

Tana Umaga

Former All Black and rugby legend Tana Umaga is open to coaching the Singapore Super Rugby franchise if they win the bid to be one of the expansion teams in 2016.

The Counties Manukau coach has been involved with the Asian country for a few years now, he will coach the Asia Pacific Dragons in there in a game against the Maori All Blacks later this year.

Singapore is currently in a battle with Japan to be one of the teams included in Super Rugby when it increases to an 18-team competition in 2016.

Umaga would be a worthy candidate with his ability to lure players through his name and presence, as such he is already being touted as a front-runner to coach the team.

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Jurie Roux

Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU

The South African Rugby Union find themselves at a crossroads in the Super Rugby saga. It is now time that they show some backbone!

In various media statements about the expansion of Super Rugby to Asia, a few important facts were lost in the hype.

Before we get too excited about the new ‘world’ we are going to enter into (the expansion to Asia), we should rather look at the facts.

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Jaco Peyper

Jaco Peyper

SANZAR has appointed the referees for Saturday’s Semi-Finals. Jaco Peyper will referee in Sydney, Glen Jackson in Christchurch.

The Crusaders are the only team that played in the 2013 Semi-Finals.

In 2013 the referees for the Semi-Finals were Steve Walsh for the Chiefs vs Crusaders and Craig Joubert for the Vodacom Bulls vs the Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld.

In 2013 Peyper and Jackson were both involved in the Play-Off’s – Peyper for Crusaders vs Reds and Jackson for the Brumbies vs Toyota Cheetahs.

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Australian National Rugby ChampionshipThe Australian Rugby Union has unveiled the Wallabies player allocations for the inaugural year of Australian’s National Rugby Championship.

In general, Wallabies will be aligned to the NRC team that is affiliated with their Premier Club, with each NRC team entitled to four Test players outside of their 33-man contracted squad.

If an NRC team elects to have more than four Wallabies aligned to their team, extra Test players will be counted as part of their contracted playing squad.

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French Rugby

French rugby is just one bad November away from falling out of the top 10 rankings

After years of selling itself as a global game when it never really was, rugby is poised to take grip in territories it has always dreamed of conquering writes Gregor Paul in the Herold on Sunday.

The All Blacks are scheduled to play in Chicago this year, Samoa in 2015 and probably Singapore in 2016. Super Rugby is also heading to Argentina and probably Singapore.

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight, who was deemed “not good enough” for the Chiefs, is proving all wrong

Brumbies excitement machine Henry Speight didn’t just leave the Chiefs lamenting a qualifying finals loss.

He left their coach Dave Rennie ruing the one “that got away” after his side’s dream of a Super Rugby three-peat came to a crashing end at Canberra Stadium.

And the Chiefs only have themselves to blame.

That’s because Speight not only played for Hamilton Boys High School, but went on to represent the Waikato provincial team – the Chiefs’ feeder club.

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Ben Mowen

Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen in action

BrumbiesACT Brumbies captain Ben Mowen has lauded the club’s courageous Super Rugby finals win against the Waikato Chiefs as the best performance of the past three years.

But Mowen, the most-capped skipper in Brumbies history, insists the ACT side can improve on its epic eight-try win which ended the Chiefs’ two-year reign as Super Rugby champions.

The Brumbies held on for a cliffhanger 32-30 triumph at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night, setting up a likely week-two finals clash against arch rivals the NSW Waratahs next weekend.

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