Australian Rugby

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Super RugbyThe Vodacom Bulls delivered their top performance of the season as the Emirates Lions recorded their best Vodacom Super Rugby tour yet during an exciting weekend of Southern Hemisphere rugby.

The match in Pretoria was the undoubted highlight of the weekend from a quality point of view, with the Vodacom Bulls extending their winning run at home over the Crusaders after winning 31 / 19.

For sheer audacity, the Emirates Lions deserve a lot of plaudits for beating the Reds by 18 / 17 in Brisbane on Friday morning and thus ending their tour on 3 wins from 4 – their best Australasian return yet.

The Cell C Sharks meanwhile moved to the Top of the South African Conference and into the Top 3 on the log with a hard-fought 15 / 9 win over the Force in Durban on Saturday afternoon, scoring all their points in the 2nd half.

The Toyota Cheetahs and DHL Stormers found the going tough in New Zealand though as both went down – the side from Central South Africa by 37 / 27 to the Chiefs in Hamilton and the Capetonians by 39 / 21 to the Highlanders in Dunedin.

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Emirates LionsReds flyhalf Quade Cooper’s last-second drop goal was charged down as his comeback ended in an 18 / 17 defeat at home to the Emirates Lions in Brisbane.

Having already knocked off the Blues and the Melbourne Rebels, the Emirates Lions picked up a 3rd win on their travels this season, with a gritty display.

The game marked Cooper’s return from a fractured collarbone and he showed no ill-effects as his passing game regularly put players into gaps.

That was about the only highlight for the home side for the 1st hour as they struggled to cope with the Lions’ dynamic back row and pace out wide.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks secured a scrappy 15 / 9 victory over the Western Force on Saturday in a game that won’t be remembered for quality.

It wasn’t pretty in Durban, far from it, but the home side won’t worry about that as they got the job done against a Force side who should have scored 3 tries, 2 of which were chalked off by the match officials.

The Sharks asserted their physical authority early on as a dominant scrum against the head led to a 1st shot for flyhalf Francois Steyn, who was off-target on the 5-minute mark. However, it looked like the set-piece was definitely going to be a trump card for the Sharks.

Surprisingly though, the Force would win a scrum penalty at the next scrum but this time Sias Ebersohn was the player missing his attempt at goal.

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Super RugbyIt is Round 7 of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are 2 games on Friday 27 March and 5 games on Saturday 28 March.

The Brumbies a BYE weekend.

There are no South African derbies on the weekend again, with 3 SA sides currently on tour and both the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks envolved in games on South African soil against Anzac counterparts.

Only 1 undefeated team remains prior to the start of the weekend, the Hurricanes, and they will be up against the struggling Melbourne Rebels, at home, in the 1st game of the weekend (08:35 SA Time on Friday 27 March).

The Struggling Reds, who boast a return of a number of Wallabies take on the Emirates Lions at 11:00 SA Time on Friday.

On Saturday morning, early (05:30 SA Time) the Chiefs host the Toyota Cheetahs, whereafter the Highlanders host the DHL Stormers in their first game on tour, at 08:35 SA Time.

Next up, at 10:40 SA Time, the Waratahs host the battling Blues in Sydney.

The Cell C Sharks, resting a number of Springboks host the Western Force in Durban at 17:05 SA Time.

The Vodacom Bulls take on a resurgent Crusaders side at 19:10 SA Time in Pretoria in the last game of the Round.

The Hurricanes should coast to victory in the first Friday game but the second Friday game between the Reds and Emirates Lions is difficult to call.

The Chiefs should dispense with the Toyota Cheetahs early on Saturday, but the game between the Highlanders and the DHL Stormers is once again a difficult one to call. The Waratahs should put the Blues to the sword in Sydney.

One cannot help but feel that the Crusaders should beat the Vodacom Bulls…. even in Pretoria, whereas the Cell C Sharks should beat the Western Force in Durban.

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Western ForceWestern Force head coach Michael Foley has made no changes to his starting line-up that will take on the Cell C Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

The only alteration comes on the bench where fullback Dane Haylett-Petty is set to make his return from a foot injury should he come on to the field.

Otherwise it’s the same squad that was beaten, 25 / 24, by the Bulls last week.

Haylett-Petty suffered a foot injury in the Western Force’s Week One 25 / 13 win over the Waratahs, but has recovered to reclaim his place in the match-day 23.

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Melbourne RebelsMelbourne Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has made several changes to his starting 15 for Friday’s clash with the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Rebels centre Mitch Inman becomes the 5th player to play 50 matches for the franchise, while co-captain Scott Higginbotham makes his 100th Super Rugby appearance.

Tighthead prop Laurie Weeks will also overtake former player Hugh Pyle as the most-capped player in the franchise’s history, moving to 59 Rebels caps.

McGahan was pleased to see the players reach these milestones, and stressed the importance of acknowledging them.

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

SANZAR has lodged an appeal against the outcome of a judicial hearing held on Monday 23 March that found Francois Steyn of the Sharks not guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (j).

A SANZAR Appeals Committee, chaired by Terry Willis, with Nigel Hampton QC and Robert Stelzner SC as members, will hear the appeal via videoconference on Friday 27 March 2015 at 08:00 SA Time (17:00 AEDT, 19:00 NZ Time).

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RedsReds coach Richard Graham wasted no time in rushing back a number of Wallaby stars, when he named his side to take on the Emirates Lions in Brisbane on Friday.

There are 6 players returning from injury for the clash.

Quade Cooper, James O’Connor, Samu Kerevi and Lachie Turner will make their return from injury in the starting backline – while props Greg Holmes and Ben Daley have been named on the reserves bench.

Graham commended the players for their efforts since returning from the BYE and said he was pleased to have a selection headache for this week’s match.

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WhistleSANZAR has announced the appointments of the Match Officials for Round 7 of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

The Brumbies have a BYE weekend.

There are 7 Super Rugby games this weekend, 2 on Friday and 5 games on Saturday.

The weekend’s action is kicked off by Stuart Berry in the game between the Hurricans vs Melbourne Rebels at 08:35 SA Time. Thereafter also on Friday the Reds host the Emirates Lions at 11:00 SA Time, where Glen Jackson will be the man with the whistle.

On Saturday the action starts early, at 05:30 SA Time, when the Chiefs host the Toyota Cheetahs in Hamilton, controlled by Craig Joubert in the middle. Thereafter it is the Highlanders vs DHL Stormers in Dunedin at 08:35, where Rohan Hoffman will be in charge. Next up, at 10:40 SA Time in Sydney, the Waratahs host the Blues where Jaco Peyper will preside.

On Saturday afternoon and evening in South Africa, the Cell C Sharks host the Western Force in Durban at 17:05 SA Time, with Nick Briant in charge. The Last game of the weekend sees the Vodacom Bulls take on the Crusaders in Pretoria at 19:10 SA Time, where Angus Gardner will be the man in the middle.

Considering the shenannigans last weekend in the game between the Cell C Sharks and the Chiefs, where 3 Red cards were dished out and a further player cited after the game, here’s hoping that the Match Officials are impartial and sees themselves as facilitators of the game and not controllers and here’s hoping that player-dicipline is markedly better than in Round 6!

All we can and should ask for is even-handed application of the Laws and rules.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

David Pocock’s principled stand against homophobia on the field will cost him any chance of captaining Australia again, says former Wallaby Greg Martin.

Pocock’s on-field complaints to the referee led to Waratahs forward Jacques Potgieter being fined AU$ 20 000.00 for using homophobic slurs during his side’s win over the Brumbies on Sunday.

Respected rugby commentator Martin says Pocock did the right thing in speaking out but his action will split opinion in the game.

“He’ll pay for it. It will mean that he will never captain the Wallabies again,” Martin told Brisbane’s Triple M radio on Tuesday.

“What he’s done, he hasn’t fractured the game down a Waratahs-Brumbies line… It won’t be fractured down like that, but it will be fractured upon clear-thinking, modern-thinking footballers who will support David Pocock and the more old school, hard heads who will say that was a disgrace he shouldn’t have done that.

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Tevita Kuridrani

Tevita Kuridrani

The Brumbies have been left with a gap in the midfield following news that destructive outside centre Tevita Kuridrani will be sidelined for 2 months with a shoulder injury.

It is just the second major blow to the Brumbies’ injury list this season.

Scans suggested Kuridrani damaged his AC joint in the 13 / 28 loss to the Waratahs at the weekend.

The skilful Wallaby centre will luckily avoid surgery and that could mark an earlier return to the field if his rehabilitation goes well.

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Dom Shipperley

Dom Shipperley

The Melbourne Rebels will be without winger Dom Shipperley until at least Round 11 in Super Rugby after he fractured his hand playing against the Emirates Lions.

Rebeles winger Shipperley suffered the injury in the Rebels 20 / 16 loss to the Lions at AAMI Park on Friday and will be sidelined for an estimated 4 – 6 weeks.

Shipperley, who was making his 50th Super Rugby appearance, has started all 5 games for the Rebels this season since moving to Melbourne, however he will now be ruled out until at least Round 11 after undergoing surgery.

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Jacques Potgieter

Jacques Potgieter

The Australian Rugby Union fined Waratahs player Jacques Potgieter $ 20 000.00 (with $ 10 000.00 suspended), following an incident during Sunday afternoon’s match against the Brumbies.

Potgieter admitted making comments contrary to the Australian Rugby Union’s Inclusion Policy.

He will also be required to undergo additional educational and awareness training.

The sanction was determined following an investigation by the ARU’s Integrity Unit, after the matter was referred to the ARU by SANZAR late Monday afternoon.

The incident follows the endorsement of an ARU Inclusion Policy in August 2014, which is designed to stamp out all forms of discrimination and homophobia in Rugby.

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Dean Mumm

Dean Mumm

The Waratahs have confirmed the signing of lock Dean Mumm, who will return to the club after 3 years with English Premiership side the Exeter Chiefs.

Mumm, who earned 95 New South Wales caps (including 83 at Super Rugby level), during his time with the Waratahs from 2004 – 2012, has signed a 1-year contract and will return to play in the 2016 Super Rugby season.

Waratahs Rugby CEO Greg Harris said he was extremely pleased to secure the signature of Mumm.

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Super RugbyThe Emirates Lions won their 2nd tour match as the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks had to dig deep to win at home in an interesting 6th Round of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The men from Johannesburg weathered an early storm and clinched their 3rd successive win over the Melbourne Rebels, by 20 / 16, courtesy of a late try by Lionel Mapoe on Friday in Melbourne. With this victory, the Emirates Lions emulated their feats in 2007 and 2011, when they also won 2 tour matches.

On Saturday, the Toyota Cheetahs started well and were in front at the break against the Crusaders in Christchurch, but the home team took proper advantage of 2 second-half Yellow Cards against the visitors from Bloemfontein to win comfortably by 57 / 14.

2 Matches were played in South Africa on Saturday afternoon, both in less-than-perfect conditions.

First up, the Vodacom Bulls had to rely on a late penalty goal by Handré Pollard to pip the Force by 25 / 24 in Pretoria before the Cell C Sharks, playing for more than 50 minutes with 13 men against 14, following 3 Red Cards, had to dig deep to beat the Chiefs by 12 / 11 in Durban.

The DHL Stormers had a BYE.

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BullsThe Vodacom Bulls left it late, beating the Force 25 / 24 with a late penalty.

Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard kicked 20 points as his Vodacom Bulls side sneaked home against the Western Force in their Vodacom Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Marcel van der Merwe scored a try but his team were outscored 3 to 1 in the try-scoring stakes, as the Force’s spoiling game worked exceptionally well on their opponents. The Bulls failed to capitalise on the Force being down to 13 men at one stage.

The Bulls, who had just returned from a BYE week, were poor and out-of-sorts, and for large periods of time it looked as if it was the Force who were the home side with the way they played.

But thanks to Pollard they managed to sneak home through a penalty in the last minute, shortly after Sias Ebersohn kicked a 59-metre bomb that gave the Force the lead.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

Allegations of homophobic slurs marred a resounding return to form for defending champions the Waratahs, who delivered a 28 / 13 win over arch rivals the Brumbies in Sydney on Sunday.

It is understood a NSW forward will be investigated for allegedly using the word “faggot” when addressing two different Brumbies players in the second half of the blockbuster derby at Allianz Stadium. The Brumbies made a formal complaint after the match.

Brumbies flanker David Pocock took the allegation to referee Craig Joubert in the 67th minute as his side trailed by 10 points, and made his concerns known again in the 72nd minute. Joubert said he did not hear the remarks – allegedly made at scrum time – but asked NSW captain Michael Hooper to have a word to his forwards.

“I’m getting some pretty aggressive comments coming from your guys – that there are homophobic slurs,” Joubert said. Hooper replied: “We’re not into that”.

But that did little to satisfy Pocock, who is a vocal supporter for same sex marriage rights.

“You heard that sir … you can’t say that, there could be gay players out there.” Pocock continued: “That’s fine, but after that their captain said: ‘That’s rugby’. That’s not right.”

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Super RugbyIt is Round 6 of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are 2 games on Friday 20 March, 3 games on Saturday 21 March and 1 game on Sunday 22 March.

The Blues, Reds & DHL stormers have a BYE weekend.

There are no South African derbies on the weekend, with 2 SA sides currently on tour, the DHL Stormers on a bye and both the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks envolved in games on South African soil against Anzac counterparts.

Only 1 undefeated team remains prior to the start of the weekend, the Hurricanes, and they will be up against the hard-hitting Highlanders, away from home, in the 1st game of the weekend (08:35 SA Time on Friday 20 March).

The Vodacom Bulls take on a struggling Western Force side on Saturday afternoon at Loftus Versfeld and the Cell C Sharks are up against it against a rampant Chiefs side, who just this past weekend took care of the DHL Stormers at Newlands.

This weekend, to predict winners are maybe even more difficult than normal, where at least 4 of the 6 games could go either way. It also does not help to select the home team as your bankers, seeing as away wins have been more predominant than home wins so far in 2015!

Round 6 will have us rivited to the TV screens and marching to the stadia again!

The Friday games are: Highlanders vs Hurricanes in Dunedin as well as the Melbourne Rebels vs Emirates Lions in Melbourne.

On Saturday the action starts at 08:35 SA Time, with the Crusaders hosting the Toyota Cheetahs in Christchurch. Thereafter there will be time to play with the children and go shopping with the wifey before the Vodacom Bulls host the Western Force at Loftus at 17:05 SA Time, before the Cell C Sharks battle the Chiefs at 19:10 SA Time in Durban.

Once again 6 Nations Rugby, well 2 of the 3 games in that competition’s finale is on at the same time as the 2 Super Rugby games on South African soil… so the PVR will be busy again in my household!

On Sunday morning early, 07:05 SA Time, the derby between the Waratahs vs Brumbies takes place in Sydney.

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Steve Walsh

Steve Walsh

The Australian Rugby Union today announced international referee Steve Walsh has retired from all forms of match officiating with immediate effect to pursue business interests outside of rugby.

The 43-year-old is a veteran of four Rugby World Cups. Walsh made his Super Rugby refereeing debut in 1997 and took charge of a Test match for the first time a year later when Argentina played France and has refereed 56 Tests, making him the 3rd most capped international referee of all-time.

Steve Walsh said: “I have lived my dream and I am truly grateful for every experience that I have had in rugby. It’s been an incredible journey.

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Super RugbyThis week, we look at the last 4 years of Super Rugby to examine which sides have been the best when not in occupancy of the ball and whether strong defence has been key to overall success.



Despite being 1 of the 5 sides that completed over 1800 tackles in the season, eventual champions, the Reds, still maintained a strong tackling success rate of 89%.

The Queenslanders were middle-of-the-pack in many aspects with the ball during their title-winning season, but proved a tough nut to crack in other areas. They were among the top defensive sides when it came to winning ‘jackals’ (overall turnovers won from tackles) and were well-disciplined, going all the way to the Final with 6 other teams accumulating more defensive penalties than them in fewer matches.

Other conference winners, the Crusaders and the Stormers ranked equal-1st for total turnovers won, as well as figuring close to the summit with their tackling success rates. Good defence was definitely a match winner in 2011.

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Melbourne RebelsMelbourne Rebels’ head coach Tony McGahan made just 1 enforced change to his side to face the Emirates Lions on Friday at AAMI Park in Round 6 of the Super Rugby season.

Rebels recruits Mike Harris and Dom Shipperley will each make their 50th Super Rugby appearances this week.

Australian Under 20 fullback Jonah Placid, who made 1 Super Rugby appearance before moving to Melbourne, prior to the National Rugby Championship, will make his Rebels debut alongside his half-centurion former Reds teammates.

Jack Debreczeni, who earlier this week appeared on track to play, has been withdrawn with a minor knee complaint, with Harris moving to flyhalf and Placid starting at fullback.

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Western ForceFlanker Kane Koteka will make his starting debut when the Western Force take on the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.

Koteka, the 1st player to graduate to Super Rugby from the Perth-based franchise’s Future Force academy program, will run on for his 4th cap having made his debut against the Hurricanes in Round 3.

The 21-year-old will start as part of a new-look back row alongside blindside flanker Steve Mafi and No 8 Ben McCalman.

In the second row, Adam Coleman completes his comeback from a hip injury with his return to the starting 15, packing down alongside captain Sam Wykes.

South African-born playmaker Sias Ebersohn makes his return to the run-on side at flyhalf and will start inside the new midfield pairing of Luke Burton (inside centre) and Kyle Godwin (outside centre).

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David Pocock

David Pocock

Wallabies flank David Pocock will return via the Brumbies bench this Sunday when the team travels to Sydney to take on the Waratahs.

Pocock hasn’t featured for the Brumbies since Round 1, but the former Wallabies and Brumbies captain has successfully rehabbed a syndesmosis injury and is the only change in a 23 man-squad named to tackle the reigning champs.

For the 3rd-straight week the Brumbies have named an unchanged starting side.

Head coach Stephen Larkham’s backline has remained consistent since Round 1 and Captain Stephen Moore is back in the driver’s seat for his 3rd straight game as skipper.

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WaratahsThe Waratahs team to take on the Brumbies at Allianz Stadium this Sunday has been named, with 3 changes from last week’s team.

Taqele Naiyaravoro and Tolu Latu have been brought into the starting side, while Hugh Roach has been named on the bench for the first time in 2015.

Tatafu Polota-Nau misses out through injury, hence Latu’s starting spot, while Naiyaravoro comes in for Peter Betham.

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Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper

Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper has revealed he will be available for the team’s next match against the Lions in Round 7 of Super Rugby.

The playmaker has been out with a fracture collarbone that forced him to miss the Reds’ first five games of the season.

Cooper hasn’t been alone on the sidelines for the Reds as a number of key players have been unavailable, with the 26-year-old joined by James O’Connor, Greg Holmes, Samu Kerevi and Beau Robinson among others. All are expected to be available for next weekend.

“For me, I’ve been preparing for this day for a long time,” Cooper said.

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Western ForceWestern Force utility back Marcel Brache is no stranger to Loftus Versfeld. That is why he feels the men from Perth requires a ‘change of attitude’.

The Force arrived in South Africa this week, ahead of Saturday’s Super Rugby Round 6 encounter, with a few injury concerns.

Their opponents, the Vodacom Bulls, are coming off a BYE – which was preceded by morale-boosting victories over the Cell C Sharks (43 / 35) and Toyota Cheetahs (39 / 20).

The Force, in stark contrast, have lost to the Reds, Hurricanes, Brumbies and Rebels – despite an opening round win over the defending champion Waratahs.

And there is concern over the fitness of prop Pek Cowan, who is in a race against time to recover from a shoulder knock. Sydney prop Guy Millar has been called into the squad as cover.

Other injury concerns include Luke Morahan (hamstring), Angus Cottrell (ankle), and Dane Haylett-Petty (foot). They are more likely to be fit than Cowan.

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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika

Wallaby and Waratahs coach Michael Cheika is backing the Waratahs to upset the Brumbies, but he acknowledged that on current form the men from Canberra are Australia’s best team.

Cheika, who is carefully juggling his Waratahs and Wallaby coaching jobs in the lead-up to the World Cup, said the Waratahs are close to reproducing the championship-winning form that saw them claim their first Super Rugby title in 2014.

Speaking ahead of the much-anticipated all-Australian derby – Waratahs versus Brumbies in Sydney on Sunday – Cheika said he is confident the Tahs will turn around a season that could spin out of control if they lose this week again.

With just 2 wins from 4 starts, the Waratahs are hovering in mid-table – already 10 points behind the table-topping Brumbies, albeit just a point outside a Top 6 spot.

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Tevita Kuridrani

Tevita Kuridrani

Wallabies and Brumbies centre Tevita Kuridrani has signed a 2-year contract extension with Australian Rugby that will take him through until the end of the 2017 season.

Kuridrani joins Wallabies Nick Phipps, Sean McMahon, Rob Horne, Sam Carter and Scott Fardy who have committed to the Australian Rugby Union in recent months.

The 23-year-old has quickly established himself as one of the Wallabies rising stars since his maiden Test campaign in 2013, where he has since worn the gold jersey 20 times scoring 4 tries.

Kuridrani is highly respected amongst his peers, having polled strongly with 202 votes in the John Eales medal in his last international season.

However, the Fijian-born flyer still feels the need to improve as a player.

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Recent Comments

  • robzim 30 Mar 2015, 23:27 SAST - I will play Demetri against NZ teams where it will be better to play a tight kicking game.
  • Tassies 30 Mar 2015, 21:00 SAST - @ grootblousmile: cheers GB. Dankie vir die komentaar.
  • Tassies 30 Mar 2015, 20:59 SAST - @ Ben-die-Bul: ja miskien. Maar hulle wat kannie hul voor-rye aanhou nie.
  • grootblousmile 30 Mar 2015, 20:57 SAST - OK fellas... me out for the night!
  • Tassies 30 Mar 2015, 20:56 SAST - change is as good as a holiday. The old Pta vs Capie battle gets a bit tedious in its repetition....
  • grootblousmile 30 Mar 2015, 20:56 SAST - Tuks back 3 were crap today, so too Joshua Stander's goal kicking. Tuks scrummie also not up to it...

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