This weekend saw Round 2 of The Rugby Championship.
In johannesburg, South Africa it was heart-break for the Springboks again, 2nd week in a row, this time losing in the dying minutes against a better conditiond and fitter All Blacks side, by 20 / 27, with All Blacks capatin Richie McCaw doing the damage to snatch the lead from the South Africans with only 6 minutes to go in the match.
In Mendoza, Argentinia, the Wallabies led 8 / 6 at halftime before tuning in all the screws and beating Los Pumas comfortably by 34 / 9, also earning their bonus point for tries in the process.
As a result of the Round 2 results, the All Blacks and Wallabies are joint leaders of The Rugby Championship Log, with 2 wins apiece, whereas the Springboks and Los Pumas are still winless in the Competition, with the Springboks on a paltry 2 Log points and Los Pumas still not out of the starting gates, on 0 Log Points.
In 2015 there is of course only 3 Rounds in total, in the abbreviated version of the prime Southern Hemisphere international competition due to this year being a Rugby World Cup year. In this shortened version of the competition, where in stead of the normal double Round of matches by every side against the other sides, there is only a single Round of matches by every side against each of the other nations.
Round 3 is only in a fortnight, where the focus will be on the Bledisloe clash between the Wallabies and All Blacks for this year’s overall title.
The Springboks dominated most of the 1st half but at the break the scores were still tied on 10 / 10 and later on 17 / 17 before South Africa took a slender 20 / 17 lead and held that lead untill 6 minutes from time, whereafter the All Blacks showed their class and superior fitness and better bench selections to add 10 further points and running out 7-point winners.
All is not lost for the Springboks and one feels that they showed some quality rugby 2 weeks in a row, but they will surely now realize that their overall conditioning, fitness as well as the impact their bench is supposed to have in the vital Rugby World Cup during September and October still need a massive amount of work if they are to stand a proper chance of winning the world showpiece in 2015.
The All Blacks once again appear to be massive favourites to not only win theis year’s Rugby Championship but to also go on to clinch the Rugby World Cup title in October.
Argentina seem to be dogged by the same “Illness” that the Springboks are suffering from, as they also seem incapable of ending games strong enough and also tend to kick tactically poorly, which invariably results in scores against them in the latter stages of games when defences are no longer as tight as in the beginning of matches.
The Wallabies are building up nicely towards the Rugby World Cup, having first narrowly dispatched the Springboks week before last and now comforably beating Los Pumas on the weekend. They managed to score 2 quick-fire tries towards the end of the clash in Argentina, first by Tevita Kuridrani and then barely 3 minutes later one by Adam Ashley-Cooper (to earn them the bonus point for tries) to hammer the nails in properly against the Pumas.
Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika believes New Zealand are way ahead of their closest rivals as they prepare for The Rugby Championship decider.
The Wallabies and All Blacks are locked on 9 points apiece in the Log Table after picking up 2 wins from their respective 2 games so far in the tournament.
And it seems the mind games have already begun ahead of the 8 August clash in Sydney, with Cheika praising how New Zealand are playing at the moment.
“This year it’s a little bit closer, but it’s very obvious that New Zealand are the best team in the world, and I mean by a long way at this stage,” the coach told Australian media after their impressive bonus-point win over Los Pumas.
“To beat South Africa like they did, I think they did it pretty easy in the end.
Wallaby playmaker Quade Cooper has come under criticism for a tweet laden with foul language targeted at an unknown critic after the clash with Argentina in Mendoza on Saturday.
“Invite me to youre (sic) next team discussion then ask me how much I give a f— about your team selection,” Cooper wrote on his Twitter account. “Zero f—s given…..”
Cooper posted the tweet at 4.49am Mendoza time, the city where the Wallabies had just finished their game.
The 27-year-old came off the bench early in the 1st-half to replace the injured Matt Toomua in an unfamiliar position of inside centre – a role he hasn’t played since his early days at the Reds – and he found himself isolated behind the advantage line a number of times and was yellow carded for a challenge that was high and late.
Michael Hooper of Australia’s Wallabies has been cited for alleged foul play during a Rugby Championship match at the weekend.
Hooper is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, when he made contact with Los Pumas flyhalf, Nicolas Sanchez in an incident that occurred in the 59th minute of the match between the Pumas and Wallabies at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza on 25 July.
The case is to be considered in the first instance by SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Chris Morris.
All SANZAR disciplinary matters are in the first instance referred to a Duty Judicial Officer hearing to provide the option of expediting the judicial process.
For a matter to be dispensed with at this hearing, the person appearing must plead guilty and accept the penalty offered by the DJO.
Los Pumas (6) 9 / 34 (8) Wallabies (Final Score)
The Argentinian Pumas and Australian Wallabies did battle in Round 2 of The Rugby
Championship at Estadio Malvinas, Mendoza at Sunday 00:40 SA Time (19:40 Arg Time, 22:40
GMT, Sunday 08:40 AEST, Sunday 10:40 NZ Time). This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.
It is Round 2 of the abbreviated Rugby Championship of 2015 (Only 1 Round of matches against each side in 2015 as opposed to a double Round of matches against all sides – home and away in non Rugby World Cup years).
There are 2 games on Saturday 25 July.
The Action of the Round is kicked off in South Africa, where the Springboks take on the old foe, the All Blacks in Johannesburg and concludes with the late night match between the Argentinian Pumas against the Australian Wallabies in Mendoza.
On Saturday at Emirates Airline Park (Ellis Park) in Johannesburg at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT, 12:05 Arg Time, Sunday 03:05 NZ Time, Sunday 01:05 AEST) referee Jérôme Garcès is in charge in the Springboks vs All Blacks game.
On Saturday at Estadio Malvinas in Mendoza, at Sunday 00:40 SA Time (19:40 Arg Time, 22:40 GMT, Sunday 08:40 AEST, Sunday 10:40 NZ Time) referee Jaco Peyper of South Africa is in charge of the Pumas vs Wallabies game.
The game between the Springboks and the All Blacks should be a humdinger of note and the result could go either way. Last time these 2 sides met, also at the same venue, the Springboks won by a measly 2 points. Both sides have made some bold selections, with 2 debutants on the All Blacks side and on the Springbok side we see the return of Heinrich Brüssow, who makes his 1st Springbok appearance since November 2011. One cannot help but feel that the All Blacks have ironed out most if not almost all the chinks in their armour, whereas the Springboks still seem to be a work in progress.
The Pumas and the Wallabies have each made 7 changes to their starting line-ups and the question begs whether Los Pumas could repeat their win over the Wallabies of last year in Mendoza. The Wallabies came back very strongly against the Springboks last week, so I quite fancy them for a win against the Pumas… in Argentina.
In a shortened version of The Rugby Championship, the 2 losers of Round 1 are practically in last chance saloon while victories for Round 1’s winners would set up a winner-takes-all Bledisloe Cup clash in Round 3.
It makes for a must-see weekend of action.
Springboks vs All Blacks:
It’s been 6 years since South Africa managed back-to-back wins over New Zealand and Saturday’s clash between the world’s top 2 teams represents an important chance to lay down a marker.
Last year’s last-minute victory for the Springboks in Johannesburg – only their 2nd win over the All Blacks since 2009 – ended a 3-year losing streak against their great rivals.
The Argentinian Pumas head coach, Daniel Hourcade, has made several changes to his starting line-up that will face Australia’s Wallabies at Estadio Malvinas in Mendoza on Saturday.
There is a new-look back-3 as Santiago Cordero moves to fullback in place of Joaquin Tuculet while Gonzalo Camacho and Juan Imhoff start as wings.
Matías Moroni and Juan Pablo Socino are the centres, coming in for Marcelo Bosch and Jeronimo De la Fuente, while the other change to the backline sees the experienced Martín Landajo replace Tomás Cubelli at scrumhalf.
In the pack there is a start for Javier Ortega Desio on the flank and Tomás Lavanini in the 2nd-row, which are the Pumas’ only changes up front.
Michael Cheika has rung the changes in his Wallabies side with 7 in total for the clash with Argentina’s Los Pumas in Mendoza on Saturday.
In 1 of 3 changes in the forwards, Reds veteran Greg Holmes will start for the green and gold for the 1st time since 2007 against Canada, while Western Force stalwart Ben McCalman returns for his 1st appearance of the 2015 international season at No 8.
The final change in the pack sees David Pocock come into the starting line-up at openside flanker with Michael Hooper named on the replacements bench.
In the backs, Waratahs scrumhalf Nick Phipps and Brumbies centre Matt Toomua replace the injured Will Genia and Matt Giteau, while Joe Tomane comes in for the injured Rob Horne on the wing.
Waratahs pivot Bernard Foley replaces Quade Cooper in the starting lineup, with Cheika keen to give plenty of players a chance in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup.
“We are fortunate with the level of depth in the squad to be able to cover for the injuries we sustained last Saturday night against the Springboks,” said Cheika.
“They all deserve their start against Los Pumas and they now have an opportunity to build on the performance last week and stake their claims.
“We have 2 fine playmakers in Quade and Bernard. Both players can make an enormous impact on our team.”
There are also some new faces on the bench, with both Nic White and Kurtley Beale included after missing out last week.
Dean Mumm’s decision to return home has paid dividends, as he is set to rejoin the international arena. The 31-year-old is the last of the new faces included on the bench after his return to Australia from Exeter Chiefs.
“We know Argentina will provide a physical challenge in this match, and our reserves will have a significant role to play,” added Cheika.
“Last week they (the bench) got us home against the Springboks, and I will be looking forward to an even a greater impact from our players entering game this weekend.”
Argentina won the last clash between the 2 sides, a 21 / 17 win in the final game of the 2014 Rugby Championship, also in Mendoza.
Wallabies wing Henry Speight will join Australia’s Sevens programme as part of a new 3-year deal announced by the Australian Rugby Union on Thursday.
Speight’s new contract with the ARU will see him remain with the Brumbies through to the end of 2018 and join the Australian Sevens programme in 2016.
The landmark deal means Speight will be available for the inaugural Sydney Sevens at Allianz Stadium in February next year.
As part of the agreement between the ARU and the Brumbies, Speight will combine his duties with the national Sevens program and his Super Rugby team throughout 2016.
As well as the Sydney Sevens on the weekend on 6 – 7 February, Speight will be available for selection for the Hong Kong and London legs of the 2015 / 2016 World Rugby Sevens Series and – pending qualification – the Rio 2016 Olympics.
At the conclusion of the Rio Olympics in August 2016, Speight will be available for the Wallabies for the remainder of The Rugby Championship before returning full-time with the Brumbies for the 2017 and 2018 Super Rugby seasons.
SANZAR has released the names of the Match Officials for Round 2 of The Rugby Championship.
Jerome Garces starts the action this weekend in Johannesburg when South Africa’s Springboks host the All Blacks from New Zealand.
In the 2nd match of this Round, Argentina’s Los Pumas host the Wallabies from Australia in Mendoza and the referee is Jaco Peyper.
The Melbourne Rebels have signed Irish international prop Jamie Hagan for 2 Super Rugby seasons.
Hagan, 28, a tighthead prop who has made more than 100 appearances for Leinster, Connacht and London Irish, made his full international debut for Ireland against the United States of America in 2013.
Hagan becomes only the 2nd fully capped Irish international to sign for an Australian Super Rugby team, after front-rower Peter Clohessy spent the 1997 season with the Reds.
Hagan said he was looking forward to testing himself in the Southern Hemisphere’s renowned provincial competition.
Australia have turned to Argentina’s scrum maestro Mario Ledesma to change the perception that they are pushovers at scrum time in the countdown to September’s Rugby World Cup.
Ledesma, who played 84 Tests for Argentina as a hooker, has begun working with the Wallabies on set pieces after performing the same function for the Waratahs through the Super Rugby season.
The Wallabies much maligned scrum came in for more scrutiny after some shaky moments in their season-opening Rugby Championship Test against South Africa’s Springboks in Brisbane last weekend.
Australia’s scrum has regularly been targeted by opponents over the last decade to great effect, and they will be under enormous pressure at the World Cup against pool rivals and scrummaging powerhouses England and Wales.
Michael Cheika’s men can expect another thorough examination in Mendoza this weekend against Argentina, a nation renowned for their scrummaging prowess.
The Melbourne Rebels have strengthened their squad for the 2016 season with the signing of lock Culum Retallick from the Blues on a 2 year deal.
Retallick has made nearly 50 Super Rugby appearances since debuting for the Chiefs in 2010, also representing the Blues and Highlanders, where he played alongside future Rebels teammates Tamati Ellison and Adam Thomson.
He has also made close to a century of appearances for Bay of Plenty in the ITM Cup since debuting as a 23 year old in 2008, and joins on a foreign developing player contract.
Retallick said he was excited about challenging himself professionally, and joining a team he has watched develop in recent years.
Wallabies utility back Matt Giteau will miss his team’s clash with Argentina in Mendoza on Saturday due to a sternum injury.
Precautionary scans on his nose and chest yesterday cleared Giteau of any serious damage, after he sustained his injuries in the 24 / 20 victory over South Africa in Brisbane at the weekend, but the Wallaby management have opted to rest the 32-year old for the next stage of the tournament.
Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika said although Giteau’s absence was a setback to the team, it would be better for him to rest after a tough Test against the Springboks.
“I know how desperate Matthew was to play and continue to contribute to this group over the next week, his leadership and presence off the field will be missed,” Cheika told the Australian Rugby Union’s official website.
The Melbourne Rebels have announced the signing of former Reds and All Blacks back rower, Adam Thomson, for the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Thomson will bring a wealth of experience to Melbourne, having made 83 Super Rugby appearances for the Highlanders and Reds as well as winning the 2011 Rugby World Cup with the All Blacks among 31 appearances for his country (29 Tests).
Capable of playing anywhere in the loose forwards, Thomson played alongside compatriot Tamati Ellison for both the Highlanders and All Blacks, while he worked with Rebels’ Assistant Coach Zane Hilton during their time together at Canon Eagles in Japan’s Top League. Thomson is a try-scoring back rower, having crossed 21 times at Super Rugby level.
The Wallabies have announced a 31-man touring squad for the next Round of The Rugby Championship in Argentina on Saturday 25 July.
Will Genia and Rob Horne have both been ruled out of the squad due to injury, following Australia’s 4 point victory over the Springboks in Brisbane on the weekend.
Genia suffered bone bruising and minor cartilage damage to his knee, while Horne will return to Sydney with a calf strain.
Head coach Michael Cheika said, “It’s disappointing for Will and Rob to miss this upcoming Test. They have both made an outstanding contribution to the group this past 2 weeks, and will continue to remain part of the wider squad from afar.”
“Will is due to have some minor surgery this week and we are confident he will be available for selection for the Bledisloe Cup series.
“We have taken a conservative approach with Rob and the additional week off will serve him well going into the next stage of our campaign.
Nick Cummins and Nic White will join the squad as their replacements, with 2 further additions in hooker James Hanson and prop Tetera Faulkner.
They will return as official members of the 31-man squad, after being used as additional training squad players in the lead-up to the Springboks Test.
The Australian Wallabies overturned a 13-point deficit to beat the South African Springboks 24 / 20 in an enthralling Rugby Championship contest in Brisbane on Saturday.
The TMO awarded Tevita Kuridrani a try after the final hooter, which capped a brave comeback by the hosts, who had trailed 20 / 7 early in the 2nd half.
The sides scored a try apiece late in the 1st half via Adam Ashley-Cooper and Eben Etzebeth but 2 early penalties from the boot of Handré Pollard meant the Springboks led 13 / 7 at the interval, which was a fair reflection of the opening 40 minutes.
The South African scrum was on top and their loose trio were doing well at the breakdown, although Israel Folau proved a threat every time he touched the ball for the hosts.
Test debutant Jesse Kriel announced his arrival on the international scene with a fabulous try early in the 2nd half but the visitors were made to do a huge amount of defending as Australia swung the territory and possession stats around.
A change in front-row personnel on both sides ended the Springboks’ set-piece dominance and the tandem threat of Michael Hooper and David Pocock helped the Wallabies hang onto the ball in the last half hour.
Hooper muscled his way over in the dying minutes to set up a grandstand finish, before Kuridrani managed to get the tip of the ball down on the chalk to snatch victory in dramatic style.
Reports suggest that Wallaby star Quade Cooper has pulled out of a big-money move to France.
The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) is set to confirm the Wallabies playmaker has signed a 4-year deal to remain in the country, opting out of his lucrative contract with glamour French club Toulon, Fairfax Media reported.
The media outlet said an announcement was expected to be made on Monday, confirming Cooper’s re-signing with the ARU, after his Reds team severed ties with him last month amid acrimonious contractual negotiations.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika gave nothing away to reporters on Sunday following his team’s last-gasp 24 / 20 win over South Africa in The Rugby Championship opener in Brisbane the previous night.
But Cheika has reportedly been a significant figure in the ARU’s talks with Cooper and his management and has repeatedly underlined the importance of keeping the skilful flyhalf in Australia.
Wallabies (7) 24 / 20 (13) Springboks (Final Score)
The Australian Wallabies and South Arfican Springboks did battle in The Rugby Championship at
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane at 12:05 SA Time (20:05 AEST, 22:05 NZ Time, 07:05 ARG Time, 10:05 GMT).
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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It is Round 1 of the abbreviated Rugby Championship of 2015 (Only 1 Round of matches against each side in 2015 as opposed to a double Round of matches against all sides – home and away in non Rugby World Cup years).
There is 1 games on Friday 17 July and 1 game on Saturday 18 July.
The Action of the Round is kicked off in New Zealand, where the All Blacks take on Los Pumas of Argentinia in Christchurch and concludes with the match between the Australian Wallabies against the South African Springboks in Brisbane.
On Friday at AMI Stadium in Christchurch at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 04:35 ARG Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT) referee Craig Joubert is in charge in the All Blacks vs Los Pumas game.
On Saturday at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, at 12:05 SA Time (20:05 AEST, 22:05 NZ Time, 07:05 ARG Time, 10:05 GMT) referee Nigel Owens of Wales is in charge of the Wallabies vs Springboks game.
The game between the All Blacks and Los Pumas should only produce 1 result and that is a comfortable win for the All Blacks. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has opted for a very experienced run-on side and replacement bench, whereas Argentinian coach Daniel Hourcade has included a number of inexperienced players in a very experimental Pumas side.
The game between the Wallabies and Springboks is extremely difficult to call but Rugby Championship and Tri-Nations history favours the Wallabies greatly at home in Australia against the Springboks. Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has opted to haul back some big guns, 2 from overseas (Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell) and 2 recent Australian-based Wallabies who missed some of last year’s internationals (Will Genia & Quade Cooper) to bolster his match-day 23. Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has changed just 1 player from the run-on side which demolished the World XV side last weekend, namely Schalk Burger in place of Warren Whiteley at No 8 and has made 4 further changes on the bench.
One would have to flip a coin or be very bold to nominate a winner here, but I suppose the home side goes in with a slight advantage.
Schalk Burger is back in the Springboks’ starting line-up for Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against the Australian Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Burger’s inclusion at No 8, after a great performance as replacement against the World XV last weekend in Cape Town, is 1 of 5 changes to the Springboks’ match-23 for this match.
The other 4 changes are on the bench, where props Heinke van der Merwe and Frans Malherbe, as well as Lood de Jager (lock) and Lwazi Mvovo (wing) have been included.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said the changes were all part of the plan to rotate players in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup.
“We’re expecting a massive contest for the ball on the ground on Saturday and with Schalk there next to Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee, as well as Bismarck du Plessis, we’ve got a lot of players who are very good at the breakdowns,” he said.
“Warren Whiteley played very well last weekend, but he knows exactly where he stands and will play again for the Boks this season. For this match though, we decided to go with this specific loose trio.
“I’ve said last week that we will make changes, but it’s also important to keep some form of momentum. Saturday’s match is going to be massive in the context of our season and we have to ensure we tick the right boxes.
“It will be good to see what Heinke, Frans, Lood and Lwazi can do from the bench, while we’ve also opted to keep continuity in the starting team. There will most likely be changes for every match this season as we keep one eye on the World Cup.
Matt Giteau, Quade Cooper and Will Genia return to the Wallabies starting line-up for an epic encounter against the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
Giteau will earn his 93rd Test cap in the No 12 jersey following a 4-year absence from the Wallabies program.
Playing inside Giteau will be the Reds pairing of Will Genia and Quade Cooper, who return to the run-on team together for the 1st time since November 2013.
The returning trio make up 3 of the 4 total changes to the team which ran out against England at Twickenham in the final Test of the 2014 Spring Tour, with the other change being the return of Tevita Kuridrani at outside centre.
Head coach Michael Chieka said, “I could not have been happier with the 1st two weeks of preparation here in Queensland. These players know they represent a squad of over 50 players who will have some involvement within the Wallabies program at different stages of the year.
Brumbies prop Jean-Pierre ‘JP’ Smith will return to Cape Town from Australia and will form part of Western Province’s Currie Cup squad.
Smith is capable of playing at both loosehead and tighthead prop and he will bolster the Western Province prop resources during their ABSA Currie Cup title defence in the absence of Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, who are with the Springbok squad at present, and Vincent Koch, who is on loan to the DHL Stormers for Super Rugby only.
25-Year-old Smith is a former Paarl Gym scholar, who has represented Western Province at Under 19 and Under 21 level, as well as playing 5 senior matches for the Vodacom Cup team in 2010.
Western Province Director of Rugby Gert Smal commented: “JP’s ability to play on either side of the scrum is a big boost for us, as Currie Cup matchday squads are made up of just 22 (with just 1 prop on the bench).
Former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was linked with the Stormers coaching job in 2007, and it happened again when the search for Allister Coetzee’s replacement commenced this year.
But Deans, who is in charge of Saturday’s World XV side that will take on the Springboks at Newlands, confirmed on Thursday that there had not been an official offer from the Cape Town-based franchise or any other South African franchises.
“Not South African ones, no,” said Deans.
“I had a brief conversation with Gert (Smal, Stormers Director of Rugby). I actually do a bit of work with some of the guys from down here like (current Western Province defence coach) Paul Treu. I take an interest in the game.
Wallaby coach Michael Cheika started to show his World Cup hand when he reduced his squad to just 31 players on Friday.
Cheika cut 9 players from the extended squad ahead of the opening Round of The Rugby Championship – when Australia play South Africa in Brisbane on 18 July.
Christian Lealiifano and Wycliff Palu were 2 of the high-profile casualties of the Wallaby cull.
The other 7 players left out from the initial 40-man train-on squad are Dave Dennis, James Hanson, Tetera Faulkner, Samu Kerevi, Toby Smith, Henry Speight and Nic White.
Following a gruelling 5-day camp at Sunshine Coast Stadium, the squad will assemble in Brisbane this Sunday 12 July.
The 31-man squad, captained by hooker Stephen Moore, boasts 2 non-capped players – with Rory Arnold and Taqele Naiyaravoro both closing in on their 1st Wallaby appearance.
Leinster have confirmed that they have received a request from the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) to release Kane Douglas, under World Rugby Regulation 9.
Leinster team manager Guy Easterby told the club’s website that a formal request had been received last Friday.
“We are delighted for Kane and wish him well as he seeks the form and fitness required for selection for The Rugby Championship and, of course, the World Cup after that,” Easterby said.
Douglas isn’t the only foreign Leinster player affected by a Rugby World Cup call up.
“Zane Kirchner is also in the initial South African squad and likewise we wish him well,” Easterby said.
Queensland Rugby Union has re-signed Reds young guns Curtis Browning and Chris Feauai-Sautia ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Feauai-Sautia has inked a 2-year deal with the club, while Browning has signed a contract extension for 1 year.
Both players are in the early stages of their careers, are just 21 years old and have been with the Reds since they graduated from Brisbane State High School.
Feauai-Sautia famously joined the club as a teenager, signing when he was just 17 years old – following impressive performances in schoolboy rugby. He made his Queensland debut in 2012 as an 18-year-old and made his Wallabies debut the following year, scoring 2 tries in as many Tests.
While his early career was troubled with constant hamstring injuries, the power winger had arguably his most consistent season in 2015. He featured in all but 1 of the Reds’ games this season and sits in the top 5 for the team in run metres (715m), broken tackles (31), line breaks (13) and offloads (9). He has played a total 38 times for Queensland and scored 8 tries.
The Western Force will inject additional experience into its young backline with the recruitment of Reds centre Ben Tapuai for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Tapuai will join the Force having played 66 Super Rugby matches across 7 seasons for the Reds, including starting at inside centre for the Queenslanders in their title-winning team in 2011.
The 26-year-old, who previously represented the Australian Schoolboys in 2006 and 2007, and Australian Under 20 (2008), has played Sevens Tests for the Wallabies, starting in 6 of them during the 2012 Rugby Championship and Spring Tour.
Head coach Michael Foley says Tapuai will bring further experience to his young midfield.
The Melbourne Rebels’ retention program continues to reap dividends, with front rowers Pat Leafa (2017) and Tim Metcher (2016) re-committing to the club on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old hooker has made 34 appearances for the team in his 3 seasons in Melbourne, not missing a Super Rugby match in the last 2 seasons, while Metcher joined the Rebels in 2015 and made his Super Rugby debut against the Waratahs in Sydney. He also came off the bench as the Rebels earned a bonus point victory over the Blues in Round 13 at AAMI Park.
For Leafa, who was already contracted for the 2016 season, being offered an early extension showed the club’s faith in him, his continued development and his positive influence on the team as a member of the leadership group.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has appointed veteran hooker Stephen Moore as captain of Australia for this year’s international campaigns.
A veteran of 92 Tests and Australia’s all-time most capped hooker, Moore has been reinstated as Wallaby captain, following a season-ending injury in his 1st outing as skipper.
Moore will be well supported in the role with 2014 Wallaby captain Michael Hooper and Test centurion Adam Ashley-Cooper named as the team’s vice-captains.
“Having spoken to the 2 vice-captains prior to Stephen, both of them couldn’t have made a higher endorsement of Stephen to the lead them personally, this playing group and our country,” Cheika said.
“Leadership is going to be a massive part of this journey, and both Adam and Michael will have a big part to play in supporting Stephen.
The Cell C Sharks have announced the signing of Reds lock, David McDuling, ahead of the ABSA Currie Cup season.
The Sharks press release reads as follows:
We are pleased to announce the signing of Reds lock, David McDuling, who will join the Cell C Sharks until the end of 2016.
Known for his never-give-up attitude and athleticism around the park, McDuling made his Super Rugby debut in 2014 against the Crusaders and has since amassed a total of 12 Super Rugby caps for the Reds. He also won the inaugural season of the National Rugby Championship with Brisbane City and had the most carries and run metres of any 2nd rower in the competition.
It is the Final of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.
The long awaited game to determine the champions of 2015 is finally upon us!
Of course, the South African and Australian Franchises are already done and dusted and only 2 New Zealand sides remain in the race, the all season Log leading Hurricanes and the New Zealand Cinderella side, the Highlanders.
The Final takes place in Wellington, New Zealand at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT), at Westpac Stadium.
The Hurricanes are firm favourites for the game, having had by far the best overall performance of all 15 Super Rugby franchises in Super Rugby 2015, and running away with the Combined Log. They certainly played entertaining rugby and a lot of it has to be attributed to their forwards finally stepping up to the plate to match their tremendous backline.
Their defensive structures were much improved and their dangerous backline fired.. if one did not know any better one would swear that every last player was on some serious performance enhancing drugs.
I’ve always said that the Hurricanes were always underperforming in relation to the team they have on paper, but in 2015 all the elements finally came together to make them a fabulous side.
Whatever happens in the final, they deserve plaudits for the season of 2015!
The Highlanders on the other side, turned a lot of seemingly no-name forwards into a monster pack and their backline players turned into a dangerous unit with All Blacks written all over every member.
The Highlanders have lost twice to the Hurricanes already in 2015 but last weekend in the semi-final against the Waratahs they showed that they have progressed upwards a number of rungs in the 2015 season and specifically in the last few weekends.
The Highlanders, having almost always been considered New zealand’s step-child Super Rugby side, have had a real Cinderella season and deserve to be in the final and one is almost unwillingly tempted to urge them on for all the honours in the Final.
As a totally neutral observer, all I can say is that I enjoyed the rugby these two teams dished up for us all in 2015… and may the best team win!
Let the Final roll on… no guts, no glory!
Enjoy it with me, folks.
After 124 games spread across 18 Rounds and a fortnight of finals, we stand at the cusp of crowning a 1st-time Super Rugby champion.
We run the rule over both teams – examine their strengths, potntial weaknesses and try to decipher where the game will be won.