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European Rugby

Hosea Gear

Hosea Gear

Former All Blacks wing Hosea Gear is quitting northern hemisphere rugby and heading to the Chiefs in a bid to play in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Gear, 30, has signed a one-year contract with the Chiefs to play in next year’s Super Rugby competition as he makes a bid to return to the international stage and challenges again for a World Cup wing spot.

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World Club 7'sThomond Park showcased an action packed day of world-class rugby at the inaugural Limerick World Club 7′s with the Munster 7′s team topping their group. Supporters were treated to 18 matches of fast paced 7′s rugby from top northern and southern hemisphere clubs as the three pools were completed on day one of the event.

Munster, debuting in the World Club 7′s, put on a great show for the home crowd beating San Francisco and a strong Moscow Saracens side in their opening two games with Luke O’Dea and Ronan O’Mahony the standout performers. The home side then faced off against Fijian side Daveta in the final game of the day and produced a wonder display which included two tries from Darren Sweetman to beat the Fijian side 17-5 and top Pool C.

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ScotlandScotland are continuing their trend of taking international rugby to pastures new. The Autumn Test match against Tonga on Saturday 22 November (kick-off 2.30pm) will be staged at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock, home of Kilmarnock FC, it was announced this afternoon.

It will be globally ground-breaking too, as an international involving a Tier One country is held on an entirely artificial pitch for the first time.

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Rory Kockott

Rory Kockott might be the first victim of Blanco’s radical new changes.

Serge Blanco is ready to start a radical overhaul of the French squad according to reports, starting by blocking the call-up of Rory Kockott.

The former France full-back and vice-president of the FFR is set to take a more hands-on role with the national team to support Philippe Saint-André and his struggling side.

The first signs of his influence have become apparent with reports in Le Figaro that Blanco is against a call-up of South African-born Kockott, who was expected to earn an international opportunity this November when he became eligible for France.

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Edinburgh vs LeicesterEdinburgh Rugby’s pre-season clash with Leicester Tigers at the Greenyards on Saturday 23 August (kick-off 2pm) will be followed match between two of Scotland’s top clubs, to herald the start of the 2014/15 campaign.

Melrose, Scotland’s champion club, and Heriot’s, holders of the National Cup, will meet later this month in the inaugural BT Scottish Rugby Charity Shield. Richard Mill (left) and Jack Turley fromt he respective clubs are pictured above at today’s launch.

The game will crown a feast of rugby at The Greenyards on Saturday 23 August, the week before the new BT Premiership season kicks-off.

Starting the action on 23 August will be a pre-season clash between Edinburgh Rugby and Leicester Tigers, which will kick-off at 2pm.

Then the BT Scottish Rugby Charity Shield will follow with a 5pm kick-off.

The initiative came from Melrose and was discussed with Scottish Rugby and the Premiership Forum.

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Richard Hill

Richard Hill

England Rugby World Cup winning flanker Richard Hill MBE has been appointed by the RFU as Player Pathway Liaison Manager.

The consultancy position will see Hill, a 2003 World Cup winner, play an important role with England’s international performance coaches to help identify, mentor and develop young players, between the ages of 15-19, both on and off the field.

He will also liaise between the RFU’s rugby executive staff and key external stakeholders of the governing body.

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Brok Harris

Juan ‘Brok’ Harris

Stormers and Western Province prop Brok Harris’s departure to Newport Gwent Dragons has been confirmed.

The Welsh club confirmed on their official website that the 29-year-old has penned a 3-year deal.

The experienced front row forward has made over 90 appearances for the Stormers since making his debut in 2007 and boasts more than 100 appearances for Western Province.

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 Top 14 TV Rights

Unfair deal: New bidding process for the Top 14 TV rights

The Top 14′s blockbuster €355 million television deal is under threat after the French Competition Authority decided that Canal+ were awarded exclusive rights in an unfair manner.

The LNR has already announced that it will appeal the decision which will suspend the five-year deal that is due to begin this season the long-time Top 14 broadcaster.

Subscription sports channel BeIN Sports was behind the complaint, accusing the LNR and Canal+ of excluding them from the bidding process, and they were supported by the Competition Authority.

The suspension is due to start at the beginning of the 2015/16 season because the timing of the decision would make it impossible to auction the rights for the current season.

However there appears to be a long legal battle in store before that takes place,.

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BathBath Rugby are looking to sign Will Genia from Queensland Reds, having already snared Sam Burgess from National Rugby League club South Sydney Rabbitohs.

It was reported in June that Bath had been linked with Genia, but now the reporting is that the club has made “an audacious bid” to sign the Wallabies scrum-half and is “now in talks… to lure him to England after next year’s World Cup”.

Bath owner Bruce Craig said in June that he had “already signed some players for post-World Cup going into what we consider our 150th year, which is the 2015-16 season”, but he did not name names.

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CJ van der Linde

CJ van der Linde

Former Springbok prop CJ van der Linde may end off his career by joining the legion of South Africans at Heineken Cup champions Toulon.

While it was widely reported that Van der Linde had joined up with the EP Kings for the upcoming Absa Currie Cup season, French newspaper Midi Olympique now reports that the journeyman has signed a two-year contract with Toulon to play in the European season.

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Jonny Wilkinson on Boots & All

Jonny Wilkinson on Boots & All

Jonny Wilkinson believes that both South Africa and England will make it to the semifinals of next year’s Rugby World Cup.

World Cup legend Wilkinson was at SuperSport on Thursday and Xola Ntshinga was able to sit him down for an interview.

Wilkinson has great respect for what has been achieved by the England team under coach Stuart Lancaster.

“The England team has done a great thing in going back to the foundation of the game. They’ve looked at the values; they looked at the core principles of what makes a good team. They’ve solidified it at the base and now they’re building on it. They’re adding detail on top of detail on top of detail and the players are ready to accept it,” he said.

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Chrysander Botha

English club Exeter Chiefs have signed Lions fullback Chrysander Botha ahead of the new Premiership season.

According to Exeter’s official website, the 26-year-old Namibian international touched down at Sandy Park on Wednesday and will join up with his new team-mates next week.

Botha has been tracked by the Chiefs coaching team for some time and assistant coach Ali Hepher believes his arrival will give the Devon club another attacking weapon in their arsenal.

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The choice of England as the host nation for next year’s Rugby World Cup is a fitting one, as it is of course the birthplace of the game.

There is a good sense of continuity after the 2011 edition in New Zealand, as the Land of the Long White Cloud is considered one of the sport’s great heartlands. There is a sense of the battle for the Webb Ellis Cup moving from one side of the world to the other.

The southern Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk may not be the geographical halfway point between Eden Park and Twickenham but it is not too far from it at nearly 8,000 miles from Auckland and almost 4,500 miles from London.

So, perhaps it is apt that the Russian city is to play host to the Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifier between Russia and Zimbabwe with a place in the repechage final against either Uruguay or Hong Kong up for grabs.

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Serge Blanco

Serge Blanco: Hands on

FFR vice-president Serge Blanco has announced that he is set to play a more active role within the French national team with the aim of “supporting” head coach Philippe Saint-André.

Les Bleus and their staff have come in for harsh criticism from all quarters after their dismal tour of Australia in June which saw them lose all three Tests, two of them by more than 25 points (50-23, 6-0 and 39-13).

Saint-André has the worst win percentage of any French coach in the modern era and calls for his head have been growing from the media and fans.

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Commonwealth Games 2014South AfricaThe Commonwealth Games was underway and the first Rugby games of these games were on Saturday 26 July 2014.

All games were played at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow.

South Africa won the Gold Medal, New Zealand the Silver, Australia the Bronze!

Before the Final of these Games, New Zealand had not lost a single Commonwealth Games Sevens game… well, that record no longer stands.

The new Commonwealth Games Gold Medal Champions are South Africa’s Blitzbokke… for 4 more years!

It was a tough and physical Final, and New Zealand still deserve their plaudits for being the premier Sevens side in World Rugby.

Herewith the Fixtures & Results:

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Tendai Mtawarira

Beast Mtawarira: Feels privileged to play with the Du Plessis brothers

Sharks prop Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira has revealed that he will leave the Durban-based franchise at the end of 2015.

Mtawarira confirmed that he will further his career outside of South Africa after next year’s World Cup in England.

The veteran of 55 Tests with the Springboks, who has played for the Sharks since 2007, said he hopes to get a fresh challenge in Europe.

“My goals for 2015 is to help the Sharks do well in Super Rugby and to help the Springboks win the World Cup,” he told the MyPlayers website.

That would be a dream come true.

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Gareth Anscombe

Gareth Anscombe

Outgoing Chiefs and Auckland utility back Gareth Anscombe said that he decided to switch his allegiance from New Zealand to Wales after realising he had little hope of making the All Blacks.

Anscombe, 23, who has signed to play for the Cardiff Blues, said he spoke with All Black coach Steve Hansen earlier this year and found he was well down the pecking order in his favoured position of flyhalf.

“There was a lot of factors, but I mean, there’s a lot of classy No 10′s that are floating around in New Zealand right now and they’re all pretty young as well,” he said.

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Juan Smith

Juan Smith

Juan Smith has moved closer to a possible recall for the Springboks after his French club Toulon released him along side Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha for the Rugby Championship.

This comes as SARU announced that a 30-man Springbok squad for the forthcoming Rugby Championship will only be announced on Saturday 2 August.

This is due to the Sharks still being involved in Super Rugby and lingering injury concerns over certain players.

In April 2012, Smith announced that he would be taking an indefinite break from rugby due to the ongoing battle with his Achilles injury.

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Gareth Anscombe

Gareth Anscombe

Welsh club Cardiff Blues have announced the signing of Gareth Anscombe from Super Rugby side, the Chiefs.

Anscombe, who can play flyhalf or fullback, will make the move to Cardiff Arms Park later this year and join the exciting new-look squad under the guidance of new Director of Rugby Mark Hammett, Cardiff wrote on their official website.

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Rossouw de KlerkGlasgow Warriors have signed South African prop Rossouw de Klerk from the Cheetahs, subject to a visa and medical.

The 24-year-old has put pen to paper on a two-year deal at Scotstoun and will join up with Gregor Townsend’s squad for pre-season training at the end of the month.

The 1.85m tighthead began his senior career in Pretoria, making his debut for the Blue Bulls in 2009. He went on to make 41 appearances for them, 14 of which were in Super Rugby.

In 2013 de Klerk joined the Cheetahs and has made 14 appearances in the Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup and has played seven times in Super Rugby this season.

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Glasgow 2014There is a palpable level of excitement in the country ahead of the Commonwealth Games which will be held in Glasgow this year. Driving up the road over the weekend one was reminded by overhead sign boards long before reaching Glasgow of the need to plan ahead  and potential difficulties in travelling as a result of the Games.

The online search engine Google has the theme of the games on its page, there is a lot of coverage in the media both online, in print and of course in audio and visual. Radio schedules have already been changed on some stations providing coverage already ahead of the Games which are due to get kick started with the opening ceremony tonight. In advertising it’s radio coverage the national broadcaster has even made a pledge to bring all the action of Scotland’s medal winning events live to the public. Colleagues have members of their family involved on a voluntary basis as ambassadors for Glasgow 2014 with some having already been helping out in the Athletes Village for the last two weeks.

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Florian Fritz

Battered Florian Fritz being led off the field, only to return

French rugby powerbrokers have confirmed no decision will be taken on the Florian Fritz concussion saga until the LNR Executive Committee meets in early September – some four months after the Toulouse centre was led bloodied and reeling from the Stade Ernest Wallon pitch.

In the wake of the incident during the club’s Top 14 barrage against Racing Mètro on May 9, the player’s ill-advised return to the game and the apparent misconduct of head coach Guy Novès are the subject of an investigation from a panel of doctors assembled by the LNR.

Repeated attempts from the IRB – who requested the French bodies launch the investigation – to press both the FFR and LNR for answers proved fruitless until Tuesday (yesterday), when a spokeswoman for the professional league administrators confirmed no action will be taken until after the September meeting.

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Ugly Jerseys

“And then people want to know why we take drugs, to forget the fact that we are dressed as turds, that’s why”

In rugby, like most sports, teams and athletes have had a bad playing strip or two. Individual sports that comes to mind is cycling and golf. There have been some truly terrible creations that those athletes have worn, all in the name of sponsorship and moolah.

In rugby, its generally the alternate, or so called away strip, where designers indulge in a bit too much whacky weed before sitting down in front of the drawing boards. For the most part, kits are practical and speak of tradition and history, however, there are times that the Sporting and Designing Gods sincerely fall out and abominations like the ones that appear below.

These choices of ours are by no means exhaustive and is fairly recent in it’s selection, however, if you disagree, let us know and tell us which ones you think should have made the cut.

There’s ccertainly been some strange kit in recent years!

It appears the Kit sponsors want to stamp some sort of mark on their creations, so prepare yourself for some more strange jerseys in future!

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Juan Smith

Springbok flanker Juan Smith may be set to return to the Green and Gold

Juan Smith is set to complete an extraordinary return to Test rugby after being named in South Africa’s squad for a training camp in August, according to Toulon.

Toulon have announced that Smith, along with Bakkies Botha and Bryan Habana, have been selected to attend a South African training camp in August.

Smith, who won the Heineken Cup and Top 14 titles with Toulon last season, has been rejuvenated in France after taking an indefinite break from the sport back in 2012 due to a persistent battle with an Achilles injury.

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Simon Easterby

Going green: Simon Easterby has left Scarlets to become Ireland’s new forwards coach

Simon Easterby has been confirmed as Ireland’s new forwards coach.

The former Ireland captain will replace John Plumtree in head coach Joe Schmidt’s back-room set-up, with the New Zealander returning home for family reasons.

Easterby will assume his new role in October, in time for Ireland’s autumn international Guinness Series of Tests against South Africa, Georgia and Australia.

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Aurelien Rougerie

Aurelien Rougerie

French police have questioned four men on Monday over a machete attack on rugby union internationals Aurelien Rougerie, Julien Pierre and Benjamin Kayser, officials said.

The three from French Top 14 side Clermont were set upon by about 10 armed men as they walked to their hotel in the southern town of Millau in the early hours of Sunday, according to police.

Clermont said that “machetes” and “swords” were used.

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Julien Pierre

Julien Pierre should be back in training before September

Clermont have released a statement on Julien Pierre, Aurélien Rougerie and Benjamin Kayser, saying they should return to training in a month.

The trio, who were attacked in Millau by a dozen individuals “armed with machetes, knives and swords” on Saturday night, were all hospitalised.

Pierre was in the most serious condition but the club confirmed his operation was a success and that he will be back training before September.

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Laurie Fisher

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

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

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

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French Rugby

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

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

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

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Heineken Cup

Heineken wish to remain part of the new European Rugby Champions Cup

The new European Rugby Champions Cup is set to be sponsored by the same company which backed the competition it replaced.

According to a report in The Rugby Paper Heineken, who were the long-term title sponsors of the previous European rugby competition, will splash out around £4m-a-year to be associated with the European Rugby Champions Cup.

Heineken is the first major company to give their backing to the new competition, which is being organised by club-driven promoters European Professional Club Rugby.

EPCR are hopeful of securing sponsorship from four other major companies, with insurance-giant Allianz and Turkish Airlines believed to be among the interested parties.

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Aurélien Rougerie

Aurélien Rougerie has been hospitalized

French internationals Benjamin Kayser, Julien Pierre and Aurélien Rougerie have been hospitalised following an attack in Millau.

The Clermont trio were attacked by a dozen individuals “armed with machetes, knives, swords” on Saturday night as the players returned to their hotel, according to the club’s website.

The players have been staying in the southern town in France for a training camp and were returning from a nightclub at the time of the attack. All three were then rushed to hospital.

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