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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Daniel Carter, world rugby’s leading points scorer and one of the greatest players to ever don the All Blacks jersey, is to leave New Zealand rugby at the end of the 2015 season.

The All Blacks and Crusaders flyhalf has announced he has signed a three-year deal with French Top 14 club Racing Metro. It will be Carter’s second stint in France after he played five games for Perpignan in 2008-09 during his sabbatical from New Zealand rugby.

32-year-old Carter said it was exciting to confirm his future post 2015.

“It’s going to be an awesome adventure for me and my family. Having visited France many times, including my time with Perpignan, I know what the French culture and their rugby culture is like and it’s something I really love.

“Having said that, it’s the immediate future that is exciting me at the moment. 2015 is going to be a big year and I’m looking forward to getting into it, firstly with the Crusaders and then hopefully with the All Blacks.

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Adam Ashley-Cooper

Adam Ashley-Cooper

French Top-14 side Bordeaux-Begles have announced on Wednesday that they had agreed a two-year contract with Australian international Adam Ashley-Cooper to join them after next year’s Rugby World Cup.

“Apart from being the great player he is, Adam Ashley-Cooper particularly impressed us with his extraordinary competitive spirit and his willingness to embrace our ambitious plans,” Bordeaux club president Laurent Marti said.

The 30-year-old Wallabies centre or wing has won 104 caps for Australia and is expected to play a leading role in their World Cup campaign in England next October.

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BarbariansArgentinaThe Barbarians will round off their 125th anniversary year by tackling Argentina at Twickenham in November 2015, organisers announced on Tuesday.

After a chastening 2013, the invitational side proved themselves credible opponents for the world’s elite teams this year, going down 49-39 to a youthful England team in June and narrowly losing 40-36 to Australia last month.

They are scheduled to play Ireland in Limerick on 8 May and will play England three days later before finishing the year against Argentina.

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Cricket BallSouth Africa and the West Indies battle each other in the 1st 5-Day Cricket Test at SuperSport Park, Centurion from 17 to 21 December 2014. Play was weather delayed on Day 1 due to a wet outfield, with the Test due to start at 10:30 SA Time (08:30 GMT).

The delay was only 30 minutes and play started at 11:00 SA Time on Day 1.

The weather was quite overcast in Centurion on Day 1. On Day 2 much the same weather, although it seems slightly improved.

At the start of the game the pitch was hard and there was some movement in the flight of the ball.

The score cards will be updated at regular intervals here on Rugby-Talk.

The West Indies won the toss and elected to bowl, to exploit the weather conditions.

The South Africans started fast and the first wicket only fell on 57 runs… but then 2 more wickets fell on the same score. At 57 / 3 Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers steadied the ship and batted the whole day, stringing up the runs till close of play on Day 1.

On Day 2 both AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla quickly went over 150 runs each, before AB de Villiers perished on 152. Hashim Amla reached a landmark 208 before being caught in the deep, right near the boundary markers. Stiaan van Zyl started nervously on debut… but then reached his 101 not out, when Captain Amla declared with the Proteas on 552 / 5, after 140.3 Overs. Quinton de Kock ended on 18 not out in the process.

During the Innings Break, Tea was also called… and then rain delayed play from resuming… Further play on Day 2 was eventually abandoned and Stumps was called very early after good rain had fallen in Centurion.

 

South Africa: First Innings – 552 / 5 declared (140.3 Overs)

West Indies: First Innings – 0 / 0 (0 Overs)

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Rugby World Cup 2015 - EnglandThe Wales squad will face temperatures ranging from 42 degrees to minus 150 degrees, will sleep in normobaric hypoxic chambers and will train in surroundings ranging from the deserts of Qatar to the peaks of the Swiss Alps as part of their gruelling preparation for next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Wales’ full schedule for 2015 will see Warren Gatland’s squad undergo intensive training camps in Switzerland, Qatar and Poland as well as face home and away ties against Ireland before concluding their preparations against Italy at the Millennium Stadium.

The rigorous schedule has left no stone unturned in order to ensure Wales arrive at the world’s showpiece tournament in peak condition with leading facilities at home in Wales and across the world utilized.

The programme is the culmination of months of research and planning and WRU head of physical performance, Adam Beard, who also designed the 2011 schedule, is delighted to formally announce the squad’s plans.

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Jack Payne

Jack Payne

Former Wales and Llanelli flyhalf Phil Bennett has questioned Scarlets’ move for Welsh-qualified flanker Jack Payne from Queensland Reds in Australia.

Payne, 20, has arrived in Wales, but any move cannot be made official until passport issues have been resolved.

Scarlets president Bennett would prefer to see local players at Scarlets, but admitted importing Welsh-qualified players from abroad could help Wales.

“There’s a lot of mixed feeling from Llanelli,” he said.  “We’re kind of old fashioned here. People still go back to the great Llanelli days . . .  they all want to be Welsh, Welsh-speaking if they had their way,” joked 66-year-old Bennett.

“But let’s be honest, look at the Australians, the All Blacks and how they’ve milked the situation of getting players from Fiji, Samoa and different places. You’ve got to get and live with the very best in the world.”

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SpringboksWhile South Africa finished the year second in the world, and the only side in 2014 to defeated the All Blacks, their two losses at the end of the year against Ireland and Wales exposed deficiencies that will be studiously worked on by the coaching team.

One thing is for certain, there is likely to be some changes to the portfolio after Heyneke Meyer admitted that elements like the team’s kicking weren’t working, while the usually reliable power game of the Springboks wasn’t able to rule proceedings in Dublin and Cardiff.

They did however, during that 27-25 win at Ellis Park over New Zealand, show that they have the breakdown belligerence and attacking sense to match any side.

Even if four losses in their last eight of the year came seemed to come from a lack of crystal concise mindset than anything else, at times kicking, running or passing seemed to come without the smart bomb like precision we usually expect from a Boks team.

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New ZealandThe World Champions for the most part could pat themselves on the back and claim job well done, winning 12 from 14 and retaining all major titles that were on offer.

Not only did they win The Investec Rugby Championship and defend the Bledisloe Cup, but recently the All Blacks celebrated five years at the top of the world rankings.

Yet despite some mighty mental powers and impressive depth, tactically the team isn’t able to thrash sides as many of the predecessors have in the past.

A win is a win yes, but has the proverbial gab closed but gone unnoticed due to the continuation of results?

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AustraliaWhile some might be quick to suggest Australia needs to put 2014 aside and focus on the upcoming season, no Test nation has as many potential improvements and as a consequence the prospective growth potential for the Wallabies excites.

Michael Cheika took over midyear but any who thought his success with the Waratahs would quickly translate to the national setup were sadly mistaken as the significant gap between Super Rugby and the Test arena was proved again.

There is plenty to like even if the old issue of the scrum reared its head, especially out wide, where man for man there is nothing to suggest that the Wallabies backline couldn’t become the world’s glamour division in time for the Webb Ellis trophy.

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ArgentinaThe one time in Europe that Argentina strayed slightly away from their traditional strengths, they lost, engaging in an entertaining running contest with Scotland, but otherwise closed the year with a 3-1 record over their last four.

It means that Los Pumas finish the season with form behind only New Zealand and Ireland, defeating the Wallabies in Mendoza, before grinding down Italy and France on consecutive weekends to return to South America on a high.

Coach Daniel Hourcade has been superb and his feats have been lost somewhat when talking about the likes of Steve Hansen or Joe Schmidt.

Yet the former Pampas mentor has turned many local players into hardened Test regulars, further ridding Argentina of a heavy reliance on European based stars.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesBlitzbokkeSouth Africa have beaten New Zealand 26-17 in the Cup final at the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in a repeat of last year’s victory, in front of 36 425 fans.

The Blitzbokke are the toast of South Africa after title defence at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium on the weekend.

The Blitzbokke have accordingly also now moved to first in the global HSBC Sevens World Series standings with win, as the road to Rio (2016 Olympics) heats up.

South Africa have defended their title and won their second consecutive round of the HSBC Sevens World Series with a 26-17 win over defending series champions New Zealand at the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth, round three of the Series.

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Kenya

Kenya

Kenya Rugby Union board member Godwin Karuga has resigned from Kenyan rugby and follows departing Sevens coach Paul Treu, whose tenure ended after the Port Elizabeth leg, out of the troubled Union.

The move will not surprise many who have witnessed an apparent implosion within which has culminated in the resignation of Treu.

In Treu’s decision to leave he revealed some members of the board had made his life as coach difficult.

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SpringboksThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Friday confirmed the home venues for the 2015 Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

The Springboks will play New Zealand at Emirates Airline Park (formerly Ellis Park), Johannesburg, on Saturday 25 July and Argentina at Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban, on Saturday 8 August.

The schedule was amended as a result of the condensing of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship competition to three rounds because of the Rugby World Cup, which begins in mid-September.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

French club Racing Metro are reportedly winning the race to sign All Blacks star Dan Carter in a deal that is tipped to make him the highest paid player in the game with a £1 million contract.

European media is awash with speculation around Carter as the veteran No 10’s future beyond next year’s World Cup continues to grab headlines.

All the various sources were tipping glamour Paris outfit Racing Metro to lure Carter back to the French competition after his painful previous experience of an injury-plagued sabbatical in 2009 with Perpignan.

The Times suggested Carter ‘is close to becoming rugby’s first £1 million man’ with Racing Metro owner Jacky Lorenzetti prepared to ‘break the bank’ for a move that would finally end Carter’s All Blacks career.

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Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper

Wallabies and Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper has committed to Australian Rugby for another year in a deal that will take him through until the end of 2015.

The 26-year-old flyhalf returned to national duty in the recent Spring Tour after overcoming an injury that curtailed his Super Rugby season and will be keen to add to his 53 Test caps next year.

“I really enjoyed the Spring Tour, even though some of the results weren’t what we wanted,” he said.

“We’re working hard to improve and I’m confident we’ve got a great group of players going into 2015.

“I love being at the Reds and playing rugby for Australia, and am looking forward to the opportunities next year.”

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe last Tournament in the 2014 calendar year for the HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 took place in Port Elizabeth at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament was played over 2 Days, Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 December 2014.

When play started on Day 1, France scored within 14 seconds against Fiji, but Fiji rallied to demolish France by 45 / 5.

Canada surprised by beating Scotland 14 / 12 in the 2nd game.

A number of more surprises followed on Day one, but what remained firm was the South African Blitzbokke resolve as they monstered their way to 3 excellent wins, and only conceeding a solitary try in the process.

Apart from South Africa, the other big Sevens nations – New Zealand, England, Fiji and Australia were joined by USA, Scotland and Argentina in the Cup Quarters on Day 2.

South Africa advanced to the Final, beating England and Australia along the way, whilst New Zealand beat USA to advance to a semi against Argentina, then comfortably beat Argentina, to book their place against the South African Blitzbokke in the Final.

Australia took the 3rd Place Play-off game against Argentina, 34 / 19.

The South African Blitzbokke took Final honours against New Zealand by 26 / 17 and made it back to back tournament wins as well as a successful defence of the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens title!

To Southern Hemisphere rugby interests, this tournament represents the last action in the 2014 rugby season, with their off-season officially starting after this tournament.

In the Northern Hemisphere though, it is all action in December.

The 2014 / 2015 season carries added significance because the top-ranked sides after the ninth and final round in London in May 2015 will qualify directly for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

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Francois Louw

Francois Louw

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will be pleased to see two of his stalwarts returning to the rugby field in the European Cup this weekend.

Bath’s Francois Louw is set to make his comeback after a ten-week stint on the sideline following surgery on his neck for nerve damage.

The flank last played for the Springboks in their Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks in Wellington on 13 September.

Bath assistant coach Toby Booth has indicated that Louw may be thrown straight into the action and could start for the English team when they face Montpellier at home on Friday.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Dan Carter is still aiming to be a factor in the 2015 World Cup after an injury plagued couple of months that have seen him stuttering with form.

Cater now faces a nine-month race to regain the fine form he is capable of for the World Cup after an uncharacteristically below-par year-end tour.

The All Black flyhalf has decided sitting back on his laurels is no longer an option and that regular and consistent game-time will bring him back to his best.

“Throughout the tour my injury had healed. The body felt good but the game-time was lacking,” Carter admitted.

“That tour wasn’t the best situation to get regular game-time but it got me back in the environment, back into the team and a better understanding of the game we’re trying to play.

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Captains for the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament

Captains for the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament: Ed Jenkins, Osea Kolinisau, DJ Forbes & Kyle Brown

After climbing into the top four after two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series, Australia and New Zealand know it’s far too early to rest on their laurels with Olympic qualification also up for grabs this season.

As the 16 captains assemble for the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth, Australian skipper Ed Jenkins and his New Zealand counterpart DJ Forbes reflect on their respective team’s elevation to the all-important top four after the first two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

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Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

This weekend’s HSBC Sevens World Series tournament in Port Elizabeth will not be affected by load shedding, stadium organisers have assured.

Lourens Oberholzer from Access Management said that the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium has high power generators designed to ensure constant supply of electricity to the stadium in the event of any power outage.

Oberholzer also said the local municipality has assured them that the stadium will not be affected by load shedding this weekend.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Nizaam Carr and Handré Pollard lead the full list of nominees released by SARU on Wednesday for their annual Player of the Year Awards, which will take place on 8 February in Midrand.

Carr and Pollard, both of whom made their Test debuts for the Springboks this season, have both been nominated in three categories.

The 23-year-old Carr has been nominated in for the SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Currie Cup Player of the Year.

Pollard, who is only 20, has been nominated in the categories for SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and SA Under 20 Player of the Year.

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WhistleSouth African referees Jaco Peyper, Craig Joubert, Stuart Berry and television match official (TMO) Shaun Veldsman will all officiate in the 2015 Six Nations competition, World Rugby has announced.

Peyper will take charge of the match between France and Wales on 28 February at Stade de France in Paris, while Joubert will officiate the clash between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on 1 March, with Veldsman in the role of TMO.

Berry, meanwhile, was named as an assistant referee for the matches between Italy and Ireland at Stadio Olimpico in Rome on 7 February and Ireland and France in Dublin on 14 February respectively.

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Cape Town Stadium

Cape Town Stadium

The odds are believed to have unexpectedly lengthened on Cape Town getting a stint soon in the HSBC Sevens World Series sun.

It is understood that, from a situation at roughly this time last year when it seemed a switch for the South African leg of the series from Port Elizabeth to the Mother City (and probably the under-used Cape Town Stadium, built for the 2010 soccer World Cup) was almost a fait accompli from the 2015/16 tournament onward, the Eastern Cape metropolis may instead get an extension of unknown duration.

The “Friendly City” stages its fourth successive Sevens jamboree this weekend, as the Blitzbokke try to match their feat in Dubai a few days ago of winning that leg; in doing so they advanced to second place behind Fiji on the global standings after two events of the 2014 / 2015 campaign.

It has been known for some time that tenders for a new hosting stint were going to be invited by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) after the latest PE staging of the Sevens.

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ictorius Blitzbokke in Dubai

ictorius Blitzbokke in Dubai

The pools for the third round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in South Africa were drawn in Dubai with hosts South Africa heading Pool A.

World Rugby has confirmed the pool draw for the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens, round three of the HSBC Sevens World Series 2014 / 2015 on 13-14 December 2014.

After their Cup win at the second round of the Series in Dubai, hosts South Africa are top seeds and head Pool A, while runners-up Australia, third-placed Fiji and the fourth semi-finalist New Zealand head the remaining pools.

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Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

Western Province have brushed off reports linking lock Eben Etzebeth with a move to French giants Toulon.

French newspaper Var Matin reported over the weekend that the Springbok lock could join Toulon after next year’s Rugby World Cup.

The 23-year-old Capetonian is seen as an ideal replacement for compatriot Bakkies Botha, who recently retired from international rugby and will leave Toulon at the end of the current European season.

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Zane Kirchner

Zane Kirchner

Morné Steyn

Morné Steyn

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is likely to surprise with a few unpopular decisions in his 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.

According to weekend newspaper reports, the inclusion of flyhalf Morné Steyn and fullback Zane Kirchner could be the biggest shocks in Meyer’s 31-man squad for next year’s showpiece event in England and Wales.

Kirchner has fallen out of favour in recent times after the emergence of Willie le Roux, while Steyn has fallen behind Pat Lambie and Handré Pollard in the flyhalf pecking order.

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AustraliaAustralian Sevens head Coach Geraint John has named an unchanged 12-man squad for this week’s tournament in South Africa.

Australia head to Port Elizabeth for the third round of the 2014/15 Sevens World Series with renewed optimism after reaching the Cup Final in last weekend’s Dubai Sevens and jumping four places to third in the overall standings.

Second seeds for the South African Sevens tournament after their impressive showing in the United Arab Emirates, Australia has been drawn in Pool B alongside Argentina, Portugal and Zimbabwe.

Head coach Geraint John said: “The players who performed so well for the country in Dubai deserve to be picked again for this tournament.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Marcell Coetzee

Marcell Coetzee

Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Five Springboks have been nominated for the prestigious SA Rugby Player of the Year Award for 2014 with one of Nizaam Carr, Marcell Coetzee, Willie le Roux, Handré Pollard or Duane Vermeulen in line to claim the coveted annual award for the first time in their careers.

The five players, who all played for the Boks this year, have been nominated by the South African rugby media following a stellar year on the field. Springbok rugby fans across the globe will now be given a voice in the selection of the winner, SARU announced on Friday.

The public will also be asked to cast their votes in two other categories, Young Player and the Absa Team of the Year. To cast your vote, CLICK HERE.

Carr and Pollard have also being named in the Young Player category, along with Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla and Jan Serfontein. The Junior Springboks, Springboks, Springbok Sevens, DHL Western Province and Xerox Golden Lions have been nominated as Absa Team of the Year.

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Mitch: The Real Story

Mitch: The Real Story

The coaching merry-go-round at the Sharks may have contributed significantly to the drain on the franchise’s financial resources.

This, at least, is the view of John Mitchell, in his recently released autobiography – Mitch: The Real Story.

The former All Black, England assistant, Western Force and Lions coach – in an exclusive interview with rugby365 – explained why he said in his book that he “strongly suspect” the Sharks are running out of money.

High-profile figures like Brendan Venter (now back in an advisory capacity again) and World Cup-winner Jake White have come and gone in quick succession in recent years. They also had to pay John Plumtree, when the New Zealander was shown the exit door before his contract had run its full term.

The most recent acquisition is another former member of a Springbok coach panel, Gary Gold – who will take over as a Director of Rugby in January.

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IrelandBoth parts of Ireland have united to bid for the World Cup in 2023, promising on Friday to rally Catholics and Protestants behind the event.

The Irish Rugby Football Union made the announcement alongside leaders of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom where only the Protestant majority plays rugby.

Underscoring the all-Ireland appeal of their plans, they spoke at a mainly Protestant school in the Northern Ireland city of Armagh, the ecclesiastical capital of the island.

World Rugby plans to unveil the winner in mid-2017, with South Africa considered the early favourite.

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Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen

Convincing Steve Hansen to extend his contract after the 2015 World Cup would ensure the All Blacks aren’t exposed by the exit of their experienced players, says Mike Eagle.

Eagle, who was New Zealand Rugby’s chairman between 2010 and early 2014, understands supporters may be nervous about the All Blacks coach being reappointed ahead of next year’s global tournament – something that has never happened before – but believed it should be endorsed.

Last month NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said discussions with Hansen, who replaced Graham Henry as head coach in 2012, were well underway and it was up to Hansen to decide if he wanted to sign a new deal.

While he hadn’t been privy to the discussions between Tew and the board, Eagle said it would foolish to wait until after the World Cup to start searching for a new coach if Hansen was prepared to stay.

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Blitzbokke

HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe second last Tournament in the 2014 calendar year for the HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 is underway in Dubai.

The Emirates Dubai Sevens tournament is played over 2 Days, Friday 5 and Saturday 6 December 2014.

The last Tournament for the year is next weekend, in South Africa, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

On Day 1, the traditional Sevens big sides, Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa, England and Australia have easily overcome their opponents in their first games.

Surprise results were Canada beating Wales by 19 / 14 and Scotland beating Samoa 21 / 14.

On Day 2 Fiji and New Zealand advanced to the 3rd place play-off and South Africa and Australia advanced to the Final.

South Africa’s Blitzbokke easily took the Final and the Dubai title by 33 / 7.

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Recent Comments

  • IAAS 18 Dec 2014, 18:08 SAST - @ MacroBlom: I hope you recognise that that is a very very silly comment. :lol: The guy got a ton...
  • grootblousmile 18 Dec 2014, 16:50 SAST - Stumps has been called on Day 2... due to the rain.
  • MacroBlom 18 Dec 2014, 15:49 SAST - I hope Stiaan recognizes that this was a very very easy hundred and he still got dropped early. Lot to...
  • grootblousmile 18 Dec 2014, 14:52 SAST - They have also taken Tea now, on Day 2, at the same time as the Innings Break. Light rain apparently...
  • MacroBlom 18 Dec 2014, 14:40 SAST - Gosh i love amlas captaincy. Really backs his bowlers.
  • grootblousmile 18 Dec 2014, 14:39 SAST - Hashim Amla declares on 552 / 5

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