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European Rugby

Clermont AuvergneClermont’s entire rugby union squad were drug tested on Thursday morning before the French Top 14 side meet English club Leicester in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

The mass testing was carried out before the morning training session with the club claiming that the tests were commissioned by the International Rugby Board (IRB).

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Neil de KockSaracens RugbyFormer Springbok scrumhalf Neil de Kock is set to play his 200th match for Saracens, the English club’s official website reports.

De Kock, 35, is on the bench for their Heineken Cup quarter-final away to Irish club Ulster on Saturday and will reach the milestone if he makes an appearance.

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Romain PoiteSteve WalshFrancisco PastranaIRBNo, this is no April Fools joke, it is true… the IRB has released the names of the Match Official Appointments for the June International Test window!

Romain Poite (FFR), hated by most South Africans, will referee the match between South Africa and Wales on 14 June 2014 at Growthpoint Kings Park and will be assisted by Steve Walsh (ARU), Francisco Pastrana (UAR) and Vinnie Munro (NZR).

One could be forgiven to believe, despite our assurances, that this MUST SURELY be an April Fools joke, because apart from the run-in with Romain Poite, South Africans have had run-in’s by Steve Walsh too and just recently Francisco Pastrana was taken off the Super Rugby officiating lists till further notice for his abhorrent and totally inept refereeing performance against yet another South African side.

Let’s cut to the chase and just place the Official Appointments list here for you…

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MathewReesInspirational hooker Matthew Rees admitted he had been ‘overwhelmed’ with the support from the rugby world as he made his comeback in the stunning victory over Ulster Rugby.

The front row ace came on as a second half replacement to a thundering standing ovation from the Arms Park faithful as Blues shocked high-flying Ulster in the RaboDirect PRO12.

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Brett WilkinsonConnacht Loosehead prop Brett Wilkinson has been forced into retirement due to a serious neck injury sustained in the last game he played for the club.

The 30-year-old South African has been with Connacht since 2006 and has played 183 times for the province.

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Saracens RugbyHarlequinsSaracens beat the world record attendance of a club match in their 39-17 Aviva Premiership clash at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

A clinical first-half display from Saracens saw them go in at half time 27-10 up, through tries from Chris Ashton, George Kruis and Owen Farrell, with Karl Dickson’s try and Nick Evans’s penalty keeping Quins within touching distance.

The second half was a more low-key affair, with Sam Smith’s converted try putting Harlequins within 10, but Jacques Burger and Marcelo Bosch sealed the victory for Saracens.

The game had a staggered start as David Strettle was on the receiving end of a swinging arm from Maurie Fa’asavalu, leaving the winger unconscious for a lengthy period of time, forcing him to be carried off on a stretcher.

Soon after, Nick Easter tried to make the most of a poor pass, but could only palm it into the path of Ashton who, after fending off Ugo Monye, dived over to score a 70-metre try, with Farrell converting.

Saracens vs Harlequins - Premiership Crowd Record

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Mike BrownSIX-NationsEngland full-back Mike Brown has been named Six Nations Player of the Championship after securing over 34% of the 68,000 votes cast by fans.

Brown, 28, scored four tries, including two in a man of the match performance against Italy, and was also man of the match against Scotland and Ireland.

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RaboDirect PRO12 balls 5/8/2011With the Six Nations over the club  tournament of Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Italy takes centre stage once again as round 17 kicks off this Friday.

Having led Leinster to the Pro12 title last season, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt took the 6 Nations crown at the first time of asking in a tense finish to the Championship last weekend.  Following on Ireland’s success it is perhaps appropriate that as the Pro12 returns to centre stage three of the top four teams are Irish Provinces.

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Edinburgh RugbyglasgowrugbyOne of the advantages of having the national rugby union in control of its clubs was highlighted by today’s announcement by the Scottish Rugby Union of the loan of Edinburgh tight head prop Geoff Cross to Glasgow Warriors for the rest of the season due to injuries to two of Glasgow’s props.

Glasgow Warriors are currently in fifth position on the RaboDirect PRO12 log, 3 points behind the forth placed Ospreys,  with two games in hand over the teams above them. This loan arrangement indicates that Glasgow reaching the knockout stages of the PRO12 must be considered priority by the Scottish Rugby Union, and as such they and Edinburgh Rugby need to be applauded for this decision.

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Sam WarburtonWalesWales captain Sam Warburton must undergo immediate surgery after dislocating his right shoulder.

Wales have never faced South Africa in the north-eastern city of Nelspruit, but judging by the blank they have drawn everywhere else in the land of the Springboks, they must already be fearing the worst – especially as Sam Warburton, their captain, has been ruled out of this summer’s two-Test tour.

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chrisdeansEdinburgh RugbyEdinburgh Rugby yesterday announced the signing of Scotland 7s and under-20 starlet centre Chris Dean on a two-year deal.

A former pupil of Law Primary School and Edinburgh Academy, Dean lifted the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools’ Cup in three consecutive seasons: in 2009 (under-15) and as under-18 captain in 2010 and 2011.

He has represented Scotland at every age-grade, and skippered Scotland under-17 through the Wellington Festival in 2011, before his development was fast-tracked on a Scotland 7s elite development player (EDP) contract in May 2012.

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Rugby World Cup 2015South AfricaSouth African rugby fans need not worry about securing match tickets for Springbok matches at Rugby World Cup 2015 in England following the establishment of SA Rugby Travel, it was announced on Tuesday.

The new company – a joint venture between the South African Rugby Union and Tourvest Destination Management – has secured thousands of tickets for likely Springbok matches and tailored packages to suit a wide range of fans’ pockets and experience choices.

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ERCA new European Cup accord will be signed this week after nearly two years of fraught negotiations and stand-offs. The six unions involved in the tournament, together with officials from competing sides in England, France and Wales, met in Paris on Monday to finalise the details.

It was hoped the stakeholders would be able to sign the heads of agreement at the meeting but the translation of the document into Italian was completed only over the weekend and their rugby federation said it had not had time to fully scrutinise it.

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