Israel Folau becomes the 1st Australian player to win consecutive John Eales Medals.
The Wallabies and Waratahs fullback Israel Folau has claimed the 2015 John Eales Medal, winning the award for a 2nd consecutive year.
In just his 3rd year in Rugby Union’s top flight, Folau’s meteoric rise has continued as he becomes just the 3rd player in the 14-year history of the John Eales Medal to collect the major award for a 2nd time, joining George Smith (2002, 2008) and Nathan Sharpe (2007, 2012).
At a packed gala dinner at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) celebrated and acknowledged the players, coaches, fans, match officials and administrators for their dedication, committment and outstanding performance.
Folau picked up 138 votes in total to edge out resurgent flanker David Pocock (113), Wallabies Vice-Captains Michael Hooper (108), Adam Ashley-Cooper (98), and Ben McCalman (95) to become the 1st ever back-to-back winner.
Australian international prop Salesi Ma’afu is in custody over an alleged assault, a police source said on Monday.
The 32-year-old Toulon player, capped 14 times by the Wallabies, is believed to have been involved in a heated argument over a parking place on 16 August and is reported to have hit someone who attempted to intervene.
Ma’afu has not sparkled in pre-season friendlies since he joined the 3-time European champions from English side Northampton, and only came on for the last half hour of the opening day 22 / 27 defeat to Racing-Metro on Friday.
Waratahs boss Greg Harris will leave the Sydney Super Rugby franchise just 10 months after he joined the rugby club.
According to reports in Sydney CEO Harris chose not to re-apply for an extension for his contract which ends on 31 December.
The Waratahs franchise won their first Super Rugby title in 2014 but have lost several of their stars and the coach who masterminded the title has moved up to take on the Wallabies job.
The reports suggest that the restructure of the governance of both the Waratahs and NSW Rugby, who operate as separate entities, has upset several parties and and created conflicts.
Wallabies assistant coach Stephen Larkham says that scrumhalf Nic White could still play a role at the Rugby World Cup.
White and his Brumbies teammate Christian Lealiifano were the surprise ommissions from coach Michael Cheika’s World Cup squad, but with just 2 specialist scrumhalves in the group Larkham said that White will be called on if either Will Genia or Nick Phipps get injured.
The tenacious scrumhalf played a vital role in the Wallabies’ recent victory over the All Blacks in Sydney which saw them claim The Rugby Championship title, and Brumbies coach Larkham admitted that White was understandably disappointed that he did not make the cut for the global showpiece in England next month.
Welshman Geraint John on Monday quit as coach of Australia’s Sevens team to take up a new role for the Welsh Rugby Union.
The sudden announcement comes barely a year out from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
John, who had served as the Sevens director and head coach since June 2014, resigned to take up a new position with the WRU as the leader of the elite coach development.
Veteran lock James Horwill and scrumhalf Nic White were the 2 big omissions Friday as southern hemisphere champions, Australia’s Wallabies named their 31-man squad to tackle a challenging group at next month’s Rugby World Cup.
Horwill captained the Wallabies at the last Rugby World Cup in New Zealand but was a high-profile casualty with Kane Douglas returning as 1 of 4 2nd-rowers in the line-up, alongside Dean Mumm, Rob Simmons and Will Skelton.
Coach Michael Cheika phoned Horwill on Thursday to break the news and have what he called “a very difficult conversation”.
The Reds have announced the extension of Richard Graham as head coach for the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Graham will work under a new high performance structure that will see him report into an Executive General Manager.
This newly created structure, outlined as the main recommendation from the recent Reds High Performance Review, sees the appointment of former World Cup-winning Wallabies centre Daniel Herbert, a 124-capped Queensland Red, to this Executive General Manager’s role.
All Blacks (13) 41 / 13 (6) Wallabies (Final Score)
The New Zealand All Blacks and Australian Wallabies did battle in a Bledisloe Cup game at
Eden Park, Auckland at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.
The Wallabies have recalled Quade Cooper and rested David Pocock – ditching their successful twin openside flank weapon.
This is amongst 6 changes made to the side to face the All Blacks in Auckland on Saturday.
After beating New Zealand last week in Sydney, to claim the Rugby Championship, the Wallabies are now aiming to win the Bledisloe Cup for the 1st time in 13 years and end a 39-year losing streak at Eden Park.
But with 1 eye on the bigger prize of the Rugby World Cup, starting in England next month, coach Michael Cheika has put last week’s 27 / 19 victory behind him and made wholesale changes to test the depth of his squad.
Former All Black winger Zac Guildford is likely to cancel his plans to play Super Rugby for the Waratahs next year.
Guildford, 26, signed a 1-year contract with the Waratahs outfit last week but last night said there was a chance he would exercise an out clause.
“I’ve had a rethink and I’ve decided it might be better to stay closer to home and family and friends.”
The Wallabies have made a statement ahead of the Rugby World Cup with a 27 / 19 victory over the All Blacks to win the 2015 Rugby Championship.
The All Blacks have won every Rugby Championship since the expansion to 4 teams in 2012, but were outscored by 3 tries to 2 by their hosts in a thrilling contest at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
The result also means New Zealand must win next week’s clash at Eden Park if they are to retain the Bledisloe Cup, which they have held since 2003.
This is Australia’s 1st title since claiming the Tri-Nations in 2011.
Wallabies (3) 27 / 19 (6) All Blacks (Final Score)
The Australian Wallabies and New Zealand All Blacks did battle in Round 3 of The Rugby Championship at
ANZ Stadium, Sydney 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 & CSN on TV in SA.
It is the 3rd and final Round 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).
The last 2 games are both on Saturday 8 August.
The Action of the Round is kicked off in Sydney, Australia where the Wallabies and All Blacks dual it out for tournament honours and The Rugby Championship of 2015 concludes with the match between the Springboks against Los Pumas in Durban.
On Saturday at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney at 12:05 SA Time (20:05 AEST, 22:05 NZ Time, 10:05 GMT) referee Wayne Barnes of England is in charge in the Wallabies vs All Blacks game.
On Saturday at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban at 17:05 SA Time (12:05 ARG Time, 10:05 GMT, Sunday 01:05 AEST, Sunday 03:05 NZ Time) referee Romain Poite of France is in charge of the Springboks vs Los Pumas game.
The game between the Wallabies and All Blacks has all to play for and should be a thriller of note. It is hard to imagine the Wallabies pipping the All Blacks though. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has opted for a rather large number of changes to the All Blacks side, but the run-on side is a vastly experienced unit… with the return of Julian Savea, Sonny Bill Williams, Dan Carter, Aaron Smith all in the backline alone. The Wallabies see some old hands like Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau & James Horwill return to the run-on side and also sees the pair of openside flankers of David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the looseforwards to try and dominate the ground ball situations against the All Blacks.
Both the Springboks and Los Pumas have made a number of changes to their run-on sides.
For the Springboks we see a return of Captain Jean de Villiers at No 13, with Jesse Kriel moving 1 wide to the right wing berth. Vincent Koch comes in for injured Jannie du Plessis at tighthead prop and Marcell Coetzee takes over at blindside flank from the injured Francois Louw. On the bench we see the return of Pieter-Steph du Toit from injury, as well as the return of Marcel van der Merwe, Siya Kolisi and Lwazi Mvovo.
The game between the Springboks should logically only go 1 way and that is with a comfortable win against Los Pumas.
Back row forwards Michael Hooper and David Pocock have both been named in the Wallabies starting line-up for The Rugby Championship decider against the All Blacks in Sydney on Saturday.
It will be the 1st time the pair will have started a Test together, with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika assembling a mobile pack – indicating an intention to play a high-paced game.
Hooper has won the right to the No 7 jersey, with Pocock in at No 8.
“Australian rugby is very fortunate to have some quality flanks competing for the No 7 jumper,” Cheika said when announcing the line-up on Thursday.
“Both players have been in outstanding form for franchise and country this season and have shown their class in sharing the spot in the 1st 2 matches.
“They now have an opportunity to start a Test together which they are very excited about.”
Cheika has shaken up his forward pack for the final Round – a clash between the only 2 unbeaten sides in the competition, that also includes South Africa and Argentina.
James Horwill, Dean Mumm and Scott Sio have been promoted to the starting 15 – with Mumm’s rise since returning from Europe forcing Will Skelton to the bench for the 1st time this season.
In the backs, Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps remain the preferred halfback pairing, while Matt Giteau returns from injury to replace Matt Toomua – Giteau in his 1st start against the All Blacks since 2011. The 93-Test veteran forms a centre partnership with Tevita Kuridrani.
Drew Mitchell, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Israel Folau form a potent back 3.
SANZAR has named the match officials for the 3rd and last Round of the abbreviated Rugby Championship of 2015.
England’s Wayne Barnes will officiate in the championship decider in Sydney and he will be assisted by Nigel Owens and Frederico Anselmi as Assistant referees. Shaun Veldsman will do TMO duty.
Frenchman Romain Poite will referee the Springboks vs Los Pumas game in Durban and will be assited by JP Doyle and Marius Mitrea, with Ben Skeen doing the TMO duties.
Poite is well remembered among Springbok fans for the controvertial sending off of Bismarck du Plessis in a Test against the All Blacks 2 years ago.
Poite harshly and erroneously Yellow-Carded Du Plessis for a tackle on All Black flyhalf Dan Carter before later dishing out another Yellow (which automatically meant a Red Card) to the hooker as the Springboks went on to lose 29 / 15 at Eden Park in Auckland.
Wallaby lock Rob Simmons will miss this Saturday’s Rugby Championship decider against the All Blacks and next week’s Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland – after being ruled out with a scaphoid injury.
Simmons will undergo surgery in Brisbane on Tuesday and is expected to make a full recovery before the Wallabies take on the United States in Chicago next month.
Wallaby coach Michael Cheika said he was “disappointed” to lose the veteran of 52 Tests, but said it would provide great competition for other locks to press their claims for selection.
All Blacks flank Same Cane is not phased by the Wallabies possibly adopting a double-fetcher approach when the 2 sides meet on Saturday.
Australia and New Zealand will clash in the 1st of 2 Bledisloe Cup ties, the 1st match being The Rugby Championship decider.
With the all-clear given to Wallaby flank Michael Hooper, Australia could well play Hooper and David Pocock in the same team, which will certainly give the All Blacks something to think about at the breakdown.
The use by more sides of 2 openside flanks is nothing new, New Zealand has had several exponents of it in their past.
But it was now being tried by South Africa and the calls were increasing for Australia to go the same way especially with quality players like Pocock and Hooper.
A SANZAR Appeals Committee, chaired by Jannie Lubbe SC (South Africa) and comprising Terry Willis (Australia) and Mike Heron QC (New Zealand) unanimously dismissed both appeals brought by SANZAR and the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) on behalf of Michael Hooper.
The Committee dismissed the ARU appeal on behalf of Michael Hooper on the basis that the appellant was unable to show that the Judicial Officer erred in law in finding that Hooper’s striking of Nicolas Sanchez from Argentina was a breach of Law 10.4 (a).
The Committee also dismissed the appeal brought by SANZAR that the Judicial Officer’s sanction of 1 week was unduly lenient. The Committee found the Judicial Officer was correct in the exercise of his discretion that the offending was low-end.
As such, the player’s suspension from all forms of the game for 1 week was confirmed.
Karmichael Hunt is set for a fiery courtroom showdown with the alleged drug lord at the centre of football’s cocaine crisis.
Lawyers for John Touma, the alleged dealer, will make an application to grill the code-hopping star under cross-examination when the case returns to court on the Gold Coast next month.
Hunt was one of the first big-name sports stars caught by a crime and corruption commission investigation in to a multimillion-dollar cocaine trafficking network.
So far almost a dozen current and former elite footballers have been dragged into the mess on charges ranging from supply and possession to drug trafficking.
Originally charged with 4 counts of supplying cocaine in February, Hunt sensationally took a plea deal for the lesser charge of drug possession and has provided investigators with an explosive witness statement implicating National Rugby League stars and his former teammates at the Gold Coast Suns, in the scandal.
An appeal has been lodged against the outcome of a judicial hearing held on Wednesday 29 July and Thursday 30 July, which found Michael Hooper of Australia’s Wallabies guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (a) and issued a sanction of a 1 week suspension.
Under the SANZAR Judicial Rules, all formal judicial hearings are reviewed by an independent Appeals Review Officer. The review officer, the Honourable Graeme Mew (Canada), has examined the Hooper case and in his determination, referred it to a SANZAR Appeals Committee to review the sanction handed down by Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton QC.
A SANZAR Appeals Committee, chaired by Jannie Lubbe SC, with Terry Willis and Mike Heron QC as members, will hear the appeal via videoconference on Sunday 2 August 2015 at 17:00 AEST (19:00 NZ Time, 09:00 SA Time, 07:00 GMT, 04:00 ARG Time).
Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has made 4 changes to his squad for next weekend’s clash with the All Blacks in Sydney.
Matt Giteau, Wycliff Palu, Henry Speight and the uncapped Toby Smith have come in to the 31-man squad announced on Friday.
Giteau returns after a 1-match layoff with injury, Palu returns to the squad after being rested for the past month and Speight is available for selection again after serving a 5-match suspension.
Their return is timely as the Wallabies prepare for what is effectively a 2015 Rugby Championship ‘Final’, as the men in gold sit locked at the Top of the standings with the New Zealand All Blacks on 9 points, ahead of the final match of the truncated series.
Melbourne Rebels prop Smith is the other new face in the squad, earning his place after a consistent Super Rugby campaign. The 26-year-old enters the squad as the only uncapped player.
The Queensland Rugby Union has secured the signature of Test lock Kane Douglas for the next 3 years, adding further depth to the Reds’ forward stocks.
The 26-year-old is an imposing figure standing at 2.02m tall and weighing 119kg, but also brings with him significant experience, having already played 75 Super Rugby games and 14 Test matches since making the step up to professional rugby in 2010.
Douglas made his Super Rugby debut for the Waratahs in 2010 and played his 1st Test for the Wallabies in 2012. In 2014 he made the decision to experience Rugby overseas and moved to Leinster to play in the European Pro 12 competition.
Douglas has returned to Australian shores and said he was looking forward to this next chapter of his life on and off the field.
Wallabies flank Michael Hooper will have to wait at least 1 more day to find out if he will be available for his team’s Rugby Championship decider against the All Blacks.
Hooper appeared before a SANZAR judicial hearing on Wednesday, where he was charged with having punched Argentina flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez in his team’s 34 / 9 win over the Pumas at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas at the weekend.
Hooper was cited to appear before Nigel Hampton – via video conference – on Wednesday.
The Wallaby is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (a): Punching or striking.
The hearing has been adjourned until Thursday 30 July.
New Western Force flyhalf Peter Grant says he’s excited to move to Perth where his parents and 2 uncles also live.
The Force on Wednesday officially confirmed the signing of the former Stormers and Springbok flyhalf on a 2-year deal.
Grant, 30, represented the Stormers for 9 seasons and the 5-Test Springbok most recently played a season with French Top 14 club, La Rochelle, having also played 4 seasons with Japanese Top League club, the Kobelco Steelers.
The move to Perth was made easier by Grant’s family connections there.
The latest instalment in the Quade Cooper transfer saga has been an exchange of words between the Toulon boss and the Australian coach.
Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal launched a relatively tasteless tirade against the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and its prized asset Quade Cooper, whom he threatened would end up as “the 2nd most indebted State after Greece”.
The eccentric Frenchman said that the 150 000 Euros that has been mooted as Cooper’s buyout of his contract was in fact for the promise of a contract – Boudjellal claims that Cooper has actually put pen to paper, which would make that void and has allegedly threatened legal action if Cooper does not show up for his medical soon.
Boudjellal told Midi Olympique: “The moron of the Australian federation who does not understand the case needs to know that the promise of employment is no longer the question.”
The Queensland Rugby Union has signed no less than 6 more players to the Reds squad ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby season.
In an effort to continue the restructuring and reviewing of the Reds program – these signings come after a number changes that have already been implemented in the past 2 months, including the appointment of Brad Thorn as Reds elite development squad forwards coach, Damian Marsh as head of athletic performance, the re-signing of Nick Stiles as senior assistant coach and the appointment of Cameron Lillicrap as head physiotherapist.
The announcement is headlined by the signing of 2 promising 21-year-old flyhalves in Jake McIntyre and Sam Greene.
The Reds have also added to the depth in their forward pack by adding prop Pettowa Paraka, hooker Alex Mafi and locks Lukhan Tui and Izack Rodda – all aged 21 or under.
Troubled former All Black Zac Guildford said the Waratahs had offered him a contract for next season, handing yet another lifeline to the bad boy of New Zealand.
Still only 26, Guildford’s career has been blighted by alcohol issues and he walked out of a contract with French Top 14 side Clermont in May – citing “personal reasons”.
Since then, the wing – who scored 6 tries in 10 Tests for the All Blacks – has been playing for his home provincial team Hawke’s Bay.
Guildford said Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson had approached him about joining the Sydney-based Super Rugby side, who lost wings Peter Betham and Taqele Naiyaravoro at the end of the 2015 season.
Guildford and Gibson, himself an All Black, worked together when Gibson was assistant coach at the Crusaders.
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.