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Naas Botha

Naas Botha

Springbok legend and popular rugby pundit Naas Botha believes South Africa made an important evolutionary change in their game plan in their defeat to the All Blacks in Johannesburg last weekend.

Botha believes Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer needs to persist with the enterprising style adopted – something he believes is long overdue.

“What we saw on Saturday was totally different compared to what we’ve seen over the last couple of years but it should have happened 2 years ago,” Botha said in Midrand on Wednesday.

“I don’t think it is too late, I believe we should build on this now because what we saw over the weekend was quite impressive.

“Yes, we didn’t win and to be honest it is all about winning and they did surprise us with that last lineout.”

Botha was speaking at the launch of Creative Rugby which he co-wrote with Dr Kobus Neethling, a world leader in the field of creativity and whole-brain thinking.

The premise of the book is to promote whole-brain thinking, with modern players now on the same level in terms of fitness and skills.

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Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper

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.

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Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Francois Louw

Francois Louw

The Springboks will be without tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis and flanker Francois Louw when they face Argentina’s Los Pumas in Durban next Saturday, but the Springboks could have Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez and Willem Alberts back while at this stage their medical team is optimistic of delivering a fully fit squad to the selectors for the Rugby World Cup, it was announced on Tuesday.

De Villiers, Du Preez and Alberts are 3 of 7 players whose fitness will be assessed on Monday as they complete the final phase of rehabilitation while players such as Duane Vermeulen and Coenie Oosthuizen are progressing well with their rehabilitation.

Although Du Plessis (knee) and Louw (rotator cuff), along with Victor Matfield and JP Pietersen (both hamstring injuries) will miss the Tests against the Pumas, none of these injuries will put their Rugby World Cup participation at risk. Saturday’s other injury victims, Vincent Koch and Warren Whiteley (rib cartilages) should be fit and available for selection next weekend.

Jan Serfontein (hip and knee), Marcell Coetzee (knee), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee) and Steven Kitshoff (knee) will also be assessed on Monday with a view to being available to selection against the Pumas.

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The Rugby Championship 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.

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SpringboksExamination of The Rugby Championship table with just 1 Round to go hardly suggests the Springboks may be inching spiritedly toward a prosperous new era.

South Africa lie 3rd, winless, and already out of the running: when they tackle Argentina in Durban in just under a fortnight it will simply be a battle to avoid the wooden spoon as the Wallabies and All Blacks slug it out for title glory a few hours earlier in Sydney.

Fortunately it had been widely accepted by the most astute of rugby observers before the 2015 tournament even began that its bragging rights are of secondary importance this year, given the scheduling just a few weeks shy of the 8th World Cup in the United Kingdom.

Local enthusiasts prepared to prioritise the bigger picture will also be fully aware that the Springboks could so easily be lying at the top of The Rugby Championship pile right now, as they bossed the Wallabies for 50 minutes in Brisbane and then the All Blacks for considerably closer to 70 minutes in Johannesburg on Saturday.

If rugby is a game of inches, then Tevita Kuridrani’s debated, last-gasp try made the critical difference 2 weeks back and Lood de Jager not being able to stretch his lunging arm just a couple of centimetres further against the All Blacks for a 55th-minute Springbok touchdown possibly denied them in the latest instance.

In the final analysis, lack of composure and 1 or 2 errors in tactical decision-making at vital times by a rookie-laden team thwarted them more than anything else on Saturday – it was not as though the Springboks looked light years behind for pure competence and skill in either instance, and that is a firm plus to bank in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup.

Perhaps also, a cranked-up emphasis on conditioning and durability will work wonders over the next couple of months as Heyneke Meyer’s charges get progressively used to the new ball-in-hand culture they are embracing with some gusto and swelling promise.

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Jérôme Garcès

Jérôme Garcès

South Africa’s Springboks fell foul of a law that was introduced for player safety, when they lost 20 / 27 to the New Zealand All Blacks in their Rugby Championship encounter at the weekend.

For the 2nd week in a row the Springboks snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, after All Blacks captain Richie McCaw scored a clever try 6 minutes from time to secure the victory over their arch-rivals at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.

The defeat came 1 week after the Springboks conceded an even later try, in the 80th minute, to fall 20 / 24 against Australia’s Wallabies in Brisbane.

However, it was the question of why there were uncontested scrums in the final quarter – when the Springboks still had 3 ‘qualified’ front row forwards on the field – that puzzled most observers.

It came at a crucial point in the game and had a material effect on the outcome.

The dominant Springbok scrum, which had already earned a couple of penalties and free kicks in the 1st hour, was reduced to uncontested restarts – after Vincent Koch, who had replaced the injured Jannie du Plessis at halftime, was forced from the field in the 61st minute.

Even though Trevor Nyakane, who can play on both sides of the scrum, took to the field, French referee Jérôme Garcès ruled that there should be uncontested scrums.

Not only did it eliminate one of the Springboks’ strengths, but it came at a crucial time.

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Brodie Retallick

Brodie Retallick

Ma'a Nonu

Ma’a Nonu

New Zealand’s come-from-behind win over South Africa at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday has come at a price.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, in his 140th appearance for his country, produced the match-winning try with a pre-planned lineout move 6 minutes from time – as they came back from trailing by 7 points twice.

The All Black flank won a lineout close to the Springboks’ line and brushed off the challenge of scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar to score a try that will go a long way towards New Zealand claiming The Rugby Championship title.

However, injuries to key players will have cast a cloud over the team’s celebrations.

Coach Steve Hansen confirmed that centre Ma’a Nonu has damaged his rotator cuff in his shoulder.

“He will have scans done when he gets home (next week) to determine the extent of the injury,” Hansen told a post-match media briefing.

The other big concern is lock Brodie Retallick, who took to the field despite injuring his ankle during warm up.

Hansen said the lock “showed his character” to play through the match with the injury.

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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika

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.

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Bad Boy Quade Cooper

Bad Boy Quade Cooper

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.

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Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper

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.

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Vunga Lilo

Vunga Lilo

Flyhalf Michael Stanley converted a penalty in the final moments as Samoa stormed back to tie Fiji 30 / 30 at the Pacific Nations Cup.

Anthony Perenise, Paul Perez and TJ Ioane each scored 2nd-half tries for Samoa, who beat the United States 21 / 16 in their opening game last Saturday.

In the other contests the United States of America (USA Eagles) held on to beat Japan 23 / 18 and Tonga stopped Canada 28 / 18.

Fullback Metuisela Talebula and Leone Nakarawa scored tries as Fiji wasted no time getting on the board before leading 17 / 10 at halftime.

Gabiriele Lovobalavu scored Fiji’s 4th try early in the 2nd half and, after flyhalf Ben Volavola converted to make it 27 / 10, it looked like the Fijians were off to the races.

But the Samoans roared back and were able to level the score at 27 / 27 with 5 minutes left in regulation time.

Volavola kicked a penalty 3 minutes later and Fiji were back on top by 3 points. That set the stage for Stanley’s penalty goal just before the final whistle to make it 30 / 30.

Samoa’s next game is Wednesday against winless Canada, while Fiji face Japan on the same day.

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Springboks vs All Blacks

We look at the key statistics from yesterday’s game and discuss some of the more telling moments of the match. Statistics are courtesy of Vodacom, opinion is this writer’s own. Where at all possible, blame will be placed squarely at the feet of non-WP players and / or the match officials, pitch conditions and Jan van Riebeeck.

They say you get lies, damn lies and statistics and when you look at the comparisons, it would appear to be a very close game, and indeed it was, with the All Blacks making decisive scoring breaks in injury time in the 1st half as well as the last 10 minutes of the game to sneak the victory. They clearly have higher fitness levels than the Springboks, both physically and mentally and managed to out last as well as out think the Springboks, the try scored by Richie McCaw being a prime example of excellent tactical superiority.

The statistic that is most interesting is the breakdown of meters run. When you analyze which positions made the most meters the following is apparent:

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ArgentinaAustraliaLos 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.

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South AfricaNew ZealandSpringboks (10) 20 / 27 (10) All Blacks (Final Score)

The South African Springboks and New Zealand All Blacks did battle in Round 2 of The Rugby

Championship at Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT, 12:05 Arg Time,

Sunday 03:05 NZ Time, Sunday 01:05 AEST). 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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The Rugby ChampionshipIt 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.

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The Castle Rugby ChampionshipIn 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.

 

South AfricaNew ZealandSpringboks 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.

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Daniel Hourcade

Daniel Hourcade

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.

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Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen

All Black coach Steve Hansen has been girding his team for a rolling maul onslaught from South Africa in Saturday’s Castle Lager Rugby clash between the old rivals at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

Although the Kiwis scored a good driving maul try of their own against Los Pumas in Christchurch last week, the Pumas momentarily got themselves back into the game with 2 of their own in the 2nd half. The look on All Black skipper Richie McCaw’s face told a story after the South Americans easily got over for their 2nd try. In short, he wasn’t happy.

But while that opened up a perception of possible All Black vulnerability to the driving maul, and let’s face it the New Zealanders are so good that opposing teams do need to make the most of even the slightest chink, Hansen made it clear to a press conference in the build-up to the game that he thought it was the laws that were vulnerable, not his team.

“We’re not too bad at the rolling maul ourselves these days,” he quipped. “There were 3 tries scored through driving mauls last week, but is that the game we want?”

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Heinrich Brüssow

Heinrich Brüssow

The Springbok team to face New Zealand’s All Blacks for the 90th time shows 9 changes to the match-23 which did duty against Australia’s Wallabies, for the 2nd match in the condensed Castle Lager Rugby Championship, at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Heinrich Brüssow will make his 1st start for the Springboks since the 2011 Rugby World Cup, while Vincent Koch has been included on the bench for what could be his Test debut for South Africa.

JP Pietersen, who was initially picked on the right wing, has since starined his hamstring in training and is replaced on right wing by Cornal Hendricks, with Lionel Mapoe replacing Cornal Hendricks’ place on the bench.

Of the 9 changes, 3 are to the pack, 1 to the backline and 5 are on the bench. The backline is unchanged. Schalk Burger will captain the team from No 8.

Francois Louw will start in the No 7 jersey for the injured Marcell Coetzee in a positional change, with Heinrich Brüssow assuming the openside role (No 6). The only other changes to the starting line-up is at lock, where Lood de Jager takes over from Victor Matfield and on right wing where Cornal Hendricks will do duty.

On the bench, Vincent Koch will be joined by Lionel Mapoe, Trevor Nyakane, Flip van der Merwe and Warren Whiteley, who could make his 1st Test appearance in South Africa, in front of his home crowd in Johannesburg.

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Lima Sopoaga

Lima Sopoaga

The New Zealand All Blacks team to face the Springboks in The Rugby Championship on Saturday at Emirates Airline Park contains 2 Test debutants amongst other changes.

Lock James Broadhurst and flyhalf Lima Sopoaga will line up to make their Test debuts for the All Blacks. Sopoaga comes in for Daniel Carter at flyhalf and Broadhurst takes over from Luke Romano.

In other changes in the starting 15, Dane Coles comes in at hooker, with Liam Messam at blindside flank. In the backs, Aaron Smith returns to the starting scrumhalf position, while the world-record midfield combo of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith is back.

As well, with a desire to continue to give Israel Dagg more game time, Ben Smith is named on the right wing.

On the bench, Ben Franks comes in as reserve prop alongside Wyatt Crockett, Codie Taylor retains the reserve hooker jersey, Sam Whitelock is reserve lock, with Victor Vito covering the loose forwards. TJ Perenara is reserve scrumhalf, with Beauden Barrett and Malakai Fekitoa the other backs on the pine.

Broadhurst and Sopoaga will be surrounded by a hugely experienced All Blacks side, with the starting forward pack boasting a total of exactly 500 Test caps, with a further 320 caps in the starting backline and 217 on the bench.

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AustraliaMichael 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.

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SpringboksThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Thursday named the SA Schools and SA Schools A squads for the Under 18 International Series against England, France, Wales and Italy in August.

The teams, which consist of 26 players each, were selected by a panel of national and SA Schools selectors following the conclusion of the Under 18 Coca-Cola Craven Week in Stellenbosch.

The SA Schools squad will face Wales on 7 August in Stellenbosch, France on 11 August at Outeniqua Park in George and England on 15 August at City Park Stadium in Cape Town.

The SA Schools A squad, meanwhile, will take on Italy in Stellenbosch, England in George and Wales in Cape Town in their clashes, which will serve as curtain-raisers to the SA Schools matches.

Hein Kriek from Paul Roos Gymnasium has again been appointed the SA Schools coach, while Lance Sendin from Hugenote Hoerskool in Wellington will guide the SA Schools A team.

Following Western Province’s remarkable 95 / 0 victory against Eastern Province in the final match of the Under 18 Coca-Cola Craven Week, 12 players from the Cape side were selected in the SA Schools squad, while the remainder of the squad was made up of players from the Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Eastern Province, SWD, the Valke and Griquas CD.

Eastern Province flyhalf Curwin Bosch, who was named the Coca-Cola Craven Week player of the year in 2014, was 1 of 4 players who retained their places in the squad, with the others being Blue Bulls scrumhalf Embrose Papier, wing Andell Loubser and Griquas CD looseforward Cobus Wiese.

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight

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.

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Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt has signed a contract extension that will see the New Zealander remain as head coach of Ireland until at least June 2017, the Irish Rugby Football Union announced on Wednesday.

Schmidt was appointed to the job in 2013 and Ireland have since won back-to-back Six Nations titles, as well as climbing to 3rd place in rugby union’s official world rankings.

The 49-year-old also oversaw wins against South Africa and Australia last season and came within a last-minute score of beating his native New Zealand in 2013 – something no Ireland side has managed in more than a hundred years of trying.

In all, Ireland have won 14 of their 18 Tests under Schmidt and their form has made them 1 of Europe’s standard-bearers at this year’s World Cup in England, which starts in September.

Anything less than a semi-final spot – something Ireland have yet to achieve at a World Cup – would be regarded as a disappointment for an Ireland side whose pool also features France, Italy, Canada and Romania.

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Kieran Read

Kieran Read

Being taunted by 61 000 fans at Ellis Park (Emirates Airline Park) doesn’t cause Kieran Read much anxiety.

No 8 Read expects the Springboks supporters at Johannesburg to rip into the All Blacks on Saturday (Sunday morning NZ Time), but he gives the impression that they could turn the volume up 10-fold and he still wouldn’t be too fussed.

Read is so in-the-zone during matches that the clatter coming out of the mouths of inhospitable fans doesn’t register as being unfriendly, or otherwise.

“I know the crowd will certainly be baying for our blood,” Read said.

“Once you get on the field, it pretty much becomes WHITE NOISE to be honest, and in some ways they could be screaming for you.

“It’s hard to know exactly what is being said.”

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WhistleSANZAR 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.

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Schalk Burger vs World XV

Schalk Burger vs World XV

Experienced loose forward Schalk Burger will become the 55th Springbok captain on Saturday when he leads South Africa out against New Zealand at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

The 32-year-old Burger has been named interim captain, in the absence of the injured Jean de Villiers and Victor Matfield. He assumes the captaincy from Matfield, who was ruled out of action in the short term after suffering a hamstring strain against Australia’s Wallabies on Saturday.

“Schalk has been a magnificent servant of Springbok rugby and he fully deserves this responsibility,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Tuesday.

“The resilience he’s shown in coming back from serious injury and illness is the kind of qualities I look for in players as well as teams I coach.

“In my eyes, the captaincy is very important and something I never take lightly or want to cheapen. Schalk’s character and the fact that he has been a role model for so many through the years made this an easy decision.

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Rugby-Talk.com LogoSuperBru

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi,

We hav a new SuperBru Pool for the Rugby World Cup for all to join!

As is usual, Rugby-Talk.com’s SuperBru Pools are open for ALL REGISTERED SUBSCRIBERS of Rugby-Talk.com, so if you are not yet registered here on Rugby-Talk.com, do so without delay! It is so easy to register and such fun to discuss rugby here.

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Jamie Joseph

Jamie Joseph

Super Rugby champion coach Jamie Joseph of the Highlanders and New Zealand great Carlos Spencer will take charge of the Barbarians next month when rugby makes its 1st appearance at the former Olympic Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London.

Joseph led the Highlanders to their 1st Super Rugby title when they beat the Hurricanes in last month’s final.

His next appointment is to lead the Barbarians, who celebrate their 125th anniversary this year, against Samoa on 29 August. It is the 1st time rugby will be played at the iconic London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venue.

“It’s a privilege to take charge of the Barbarians who are known the world over for bringing great players together to play entertaining rugby,” said Joseph.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will announce an interim captain for South Africa on Tuesday.

Even though there’s been no formal confirmation, the fact that a media briefing has been scheduled to name an ‘interim’ captain confirms that current stand-in captain Victor Matfield will not play against New Zealand at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.

Matfield, who suffered a hamstring injury in the 1st half of last week’s 20 / 24 loss to Australia’s Wallabies in Brisbane, was standing in for the injured captain Jean de Villiers.

And Meyer has made it very clear that De Villiers won’t be considered this week.

So who are the candidates in the current Springbok squad?

The front-runners, surely, are Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Ruan Pienaar, Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss – with Bryan Habana, Patrick Lambie and Warren Whiteley at long-odds.

If you really want to stir the pot, why not throw Flip van der Merwe’s name in there – seeing as he is now ‘available’ again.

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Malakai Fekitoa

Malakai Fekitoa

Conrad Smith

Conrad Smith

New Zealand All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will have some big selection decisions to make this week, as his team prepares to take on South Africa’s Springboks at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

Having rested the bulk of the All Blacks who featured in the all-New Zealand Super Rugby Final (between the Hurricanes and Highlanders) in the 1st 2 Tests of the year, he has to decide how many of them will now be unleashed on the Springboks.

Ben Smith, Aaron Smith, Conrad Smith, Malakai Fekitoa, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Dane Coles, Ben Franks, Victor Vito and James Broadhurst are all keen to get a run against Springboks in their Rugby Championship outing on Saturday.

Probably the most interesting selection would be what combination he chooses to oppose South Africa’s exciting new midfield pairing of Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende.

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Mario Ledesma

Mario Ledesma

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.

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Todd Clever

Todd Clever

The United States of America have released former captain Todd Clever from their Pacific Nations Cup squad over “multiple squad conduct violations.”

With the World Cup just 2 months away this less than ideal for the USA Eagles as Clever, who has enjoyed a spell at the Lions in South Africa, is 1 of their most experienced players.

A brief statement from USA on Sunday didn’t elaborate on the violations, although coach Mike Tolkin cited behaviour “contrary to the team culture that players and management have been fostering within the Eagles over time”.

“Clearly, this is not a pleasant or desirable circumstance for either party,” Tolkin said in a press release.

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Conrad Smith

Conrad Smith

The All Blacks will be in the firing line when they take on the Springboks in Johannesburg on Saturday.

South Africa suffered a narrow loss to Australia’s Wallabies in their Rugby Championship opener in Brisbane at the weekend and New Zealand expect a backlash from their arch rivals at Emirates Airline Park.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has left Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams out of his 31-man squad to travel to Johannesburg, saying it is important that he tests the mettle of other players in a high-profile Test in front of a sold-out crowd.

“We have to be brave to find out some answers to some questions and what better place to find out some questions about people – it is a heck of a pressure situation, isn’t it, against one of the best teams in the world,” he told Fairfax Media.

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