New Zealand Rugby
You can blame the goal kicker, you can blame the concession of daft technical penalties or a single colossal blunder at the wrong time.
It’s hard to argue. But the single main reason why Argentina’s strong men could dominate South Africa the other weekend and still end up losing was the train of Springbok replacements.
Coach Heyneke Meyer hooked beaten players from the pitch and sent on an eager second wave of men like Adriaan Strauss and Tendai ‘the Beast’ Mtawarira.
Waikato prop Ben Tameifuna has been cited for acting against the spirit of good sportsmanship, after referee Glen Jackson was allegedly shoved.
The incident occurred during Waikato’s Week 3 NPC Cup match against North Habour at QBE Stadium on Saturday. The alleged incident occurred in the 72nd minute of the match when Jackson was knocked off his feet.
The incident was noted by Citing Commissioner John Wootton. Tameifuna has been cited under law 10.4 (m) which deems that a player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship in the playing enclosure. His case will be heard on Wednesday September 3, by Judicial Officer Chris Morris by video conference.
Watch the video below.
Rarely do the All Blacks relish the chance to train in relentless rain and on a sodden pitch.
But when it comes to playing Argentina in New Zealand, those conditions have been a given in recent times, so today’s training at the Napier Old Boys Marist club may prove the perfect dress rehearsal for Saturday’s Rugby Championship test.
“We have a plan A and a plan B, but we have an eye on Saturday’s [forecast] and it looks like it’s going to be reasonably wet later in the week,” backs coach Ian Foster said.
“We’re going in with a plan that we want to play if the conditions are great, but our awareness of plan B is pretty high this week.”
The All Blacks are aware that they played poorly in the wet three weeks ago during a dour 12-12 draw with Australia in Sydney where they kicked too much and struggled with their handling.
This turned out to be a pretty good week for visiting teams and those in the Championship section, but a couple in the Premiership won’t be feeling quite so chipper about life.
At the end of hostilities the top five in the lower division are separated by only three points and, in most cases, have not yet started playing amongst each other.
Manawatu opened the weekend with a big win at Wellington; it was only their second ever over Wellington a in the capital and deserved on the run of play, since the Turbos didn’t squander their chances and Wellington did.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and it seems Conrad Smith has missed his old mate Ma’a Nonu during the midfield pair’s enforced break up.
The old firm has been closed for business since Smith broke his hand during the second June test against England, but seems likely to reopen for business against Argentina on Saturday.
Nonu and Malakai Fekitoa had a run during the third test thrashing of England in Hamilton, and again during a dour 12-12 draw against Australia in Sydney while Smith attended the birth of his first child.
Then in Auckland, Smith and Ryan Crotty teamed up for the Bledisloe Cup bash as Nonu sat out with a bruised shoulder.
Steve Hansen has challenged his forwards to repeat their devastating display against Australia when they meet Argentina in Napier on Saturday.
The All Blacks arrived in Hawkes Bay yesterday ahead of their Rugby Championship test against the Pumas, with coach Hansen wasting little time in putting the acid back on his big men as they prepare for what he called one of the best scrums in the game.
Brodie Retallick’s eyes light up at the prospect of locking horns with a similarly built opponent with a shared interest in physical destruction.
The All Blacks lock will likely get a chance to reacquaint himself with young Argentine lock Tomas Lavanini during Saturday’s Rugby Championship test at McLean Park.
Lavanini, a 21-year-old colossus at 2.04m and 129kg, caught Retallick’s eye last year during a stint with the Chiefs Super Rugby academy in Hamilton.
“He was definitely a physical player,” Retallick recalled on Monday. “I remember seeing a video clip where he knocked someone out just cleaning them out [of a ruck].
World Cup winning All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu has begun his overseas rugby career as a water-boy, promising a selfless attitude as he tries to help London Welsh establish themselves in the English Premiership.
Weepu said he would bring a team-first approach to a club freshly promoted and looking to do better than their last stay at the top that lasted just one season. And he’s already proved that by running the water bottles in a pre-season match.
“I’m here to push this club as hard as I can and I’ll do everything possible for the team,” Weepu told The Rugby Paper website as his arrival in Britain drew attention ahead of this weekend’s season kickoff.
“Everything is about the team, not the individual, and if someone’s not pulling their weight, including me, I hope they’ll say it.
There was nothing surprising about Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn focusing on the scrum as he prepared to depart with the squad at the weekend for what will be a testing Australasian leg of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
The scrumming was not the only area of concern for the Boks during the June internationals and in the two Championship matches against Argentina.
But it was an aspect that fell short both against Wales and the Pumas, and those who know the South African rugby psyche, will understand the ripple effect that the scrumming humiliation at the hands of Argentina in Salta would have sent through the team.
Wallabies prop James Slipper says it’s unfair to single out five-eighth Kurtley Beale for criticism following the side’s recent 51-20 loss to the All Blacks in New Zealand.
Calls are growing for Beale to be replaced at flyhalf by Bernard Foley for Saturday night’s Rugby Championship clash with South Africa in Perth.
There’s obviously a lot of debate about the ITM Cup and its place in New Zealand rugby after the changes that mean there are games on almost every day of the week.
Stepping aside from my role as a Sky commentator, I really enjoy it. When there is a game on a Wednesday or Thursday night, I will sit down and watch it. After playing amateur and professional rugby – I was selected for the All Blacks from the NPC – I think it’s an extremely valuable competition. I don’t think there is anything in the world which replicates that provincial rivalry.
Keven Mealamu says he isn’t done yet, not by a long shot.
As another round of hand wringing about the country’s lack of depth at hooker kicks off, Mealamu has reiterated his desire to be part of next year’s World Cup campaign.
Dane Coles’ looming absence from part, or all, of the All Blacks’ trip to Argentina and South Africa later this month for the birth of his partner’s child has again highlighted the dearth of options available to coach Steve Hansen.
Bay of Plenty’s Nathan Harris was the next cab off the rank, but after that it was anybody’s guess.
“We’ve been bringing people in and out of the environment,” Hansen said.
Sam Cane could have been excused if he sneaked off to find a heavy punching bag in Napier yesterday to vent some frustration.
It was hard not to feel a little sorry for the 22-year-old openside as the All Blacks assembled ahead of Saturday’s Rugby Championship match against Argentina.
That’s because around about the same time the All Blacks were being welcomed by 1200 fans at Napier Airport, Cane’s Bay of Plenty teammates were preparing to play Taranaki in a national provincial championship match in New Plymouth.
The thought of an extended run a game of rugby must consume a player who has seen just 40 minutes of action this year, but, unlike 10 of his All Blacks teammates, he was not released for provincial duties.
On merit, history suggests Sonny Bill Williams will play second fiddle to Ma’a Nonu again.
The only time Williams genuinely cracked the All Blacks was when Nonu had a wretched run with injury. He was No 1 by default. At the last World Cup he was a bit-part player at best.
In terms of the exemption he was granted to be picked for the end of year tour without having to play in the NPC for Counties Manukau, I’m not in favour of it.
All Blacks centre Ma’a Nonu has been passed fit to face Argentina next weekend in the latest round of the Rugby Championship.
Nonu was absent from New Zealand’s 51-20 mauling of Australia two weeks ago at Eden Park.
The Hurricanes midfielder picked up a shoulder injury in the 12-12 draw with the Wallabies the week previously, but his return to full health is important.
Ryan Crotty, Nonu’s replacement in Auckland, has been ruled out for four weeks with a facial fracture, meaning Nonu could come straight back in.
OK, a special for the Ex-Voldy bloggers… we will keep this Hore Thread ALIVE for a while.. so go ahead, get your records!!
Former All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore has answered an S.O.S. to come out of retirement and provide injury cover for Southland.
The loss of veteran hooker Jason Rutledge has left the Stags with problems in the middle of their front row.
That saw skipper Jamie Mackintosh put a call in to his mate Hore to twist his arm to help out in Invercargill.
I always find it interesting how people think they need to reinvent the wheel. They think they can make it work better when in fact it is spinning around just nicely as it is.
The wheel I am speaking of is the Waratahs combination at five-eighth and inside centre, and the fact that it wasn’t used for the Wallabies for the opening two games of the Rugby Championship.
Publicly Kurtley Beale was happy about his selection at five-eighth and I am sure he was in his preferred position, but I wonder if privately he ever thought, “have I spent enough time in the role?”
Round 2 of The Rugby Championship and Round 3 of the Currie Cup is done and dusted!
No real surprises with the results, except the huge margin the All Blacks smashed the Wallabies by, and the fact that the Bokke hardly scraped their way to a 2 point win.
The Springboks have struggled in Argentina the past three years, but most pundits thought the Bokke would at least still be closer to a 10 point margin better than the Pumas, even on a bad day.
Former Highlanders coach Glenn Moore will take charge of the Blues forward pack for the next two years.
Moore will join the Blues fulltime at the conclusion of the Heartland Championship – he is the current Mid Canterbury head coach – and replace All Blacks skills coach Mick Byrne, who stepped down at this end of last season.
Auckland-born Moore partners head coach Kirwan and assistant Grant Doorey in the coaching team with a back skills coach, who will fill Sir Graham Henry’s void, to be appointed in the coming weeks.
Moore reckons none of his Super Rugby charges will phone to say they can’t make training because the cow shed roof has blown off in a big storm.
Zac Guildford is looking to put his past alcohol-fuelled misdemeanours behind him and launch a new chapter in his impressive rugby career with Clermont.
The bad-boy of New Zealand rugby has had his fair share of run-ins with both rugby authorities and the law, but now he says he has a more mature head on his 25-year-old shoulders.
“I made some mistakes in my youth. The time had come to make some changes in my life and coming to Clermont was one of the best I could make,” he said.
The awful truth about the Wallabies’ hammering last weekend is that by 2015 the All Blacks could roll out an entirely different back line and dish it out all over again.
Wallowing in pessimism? Perhaps, but look at the stockpile of talent that wasn’t even in the 23 in Auckland that, in theory, they could select next year.
Springbok fullback Willie le Roux says he has settled in the role coach Heyneke Meyer has entrusted him with.
Le Roux has become a popular player in South Africa since making his Test debut against Italy in Durban in 2013.
His attacking influence has given the Springbok backline an expansive approach as he’s played a playmaker’s role in a number of tries scored over the past year. He’s also scored seven tries in his 17 appearances.
Test captain Michael Hooper says the Wallabies will hear a few home truths when they come back together for the first time since one of their worst losses to the All Blacks.
Hooper, who scored one of the Wallabies’ two late tries at Eden Park last weekend, described the side’s performance as ”terrible” and way off their best.
After a few days to stew on the 51-20 drubbing – he still has not watched a replay – Hooper said the Wallabies had to bounce back.
Jonathan Kaplan has questioned whether the Springboks understand the nuances at scrums and breakdowns.
Despite winning 33-31 in Salta at the weekend, the Bok front row suffered humiliation at the hands of Argentina, with the reputations of Jannie du Plessis and Gurthro Steenkamp taking serious body blows.
Kaplan noted this when he analysed the Boks’ performance on his website, www.ratetheref.co.za.
Bigger, faster, and stronger – it’s a wonder any professional rugby player lasts more than a handful of seasons before terminal injury strikes.
Professional rugby players’ representatives love to say how short their client’s careers will be – usually while negotiating for a pay rise.
They operate in an increasingly brutal arena, one tackle away from enforced retirement.
The average size of an All Black forward increased from 100kg to 113kg since rugby went professional in the mid-1990s and the backs have ballooned from 82kg to 94kg.
Collisions are now compared to car crashes. Concussion has become an unwelcome theme.
Not until we get into the next group of games will we have some perspective and context in which to put the first two rounds of the Rugby Championship.
The All Blacks’ forward strength will be tested when they take on the Pumas and their physicality will be tested against the Springboks.
A win in either away game will put the Bokke in a powerful position, the Wallabies will have to bounce back from their thumping defeat at Eden Park or face an exit from calculations, and we will find out how many of their bullets Argentina has fired already.
There are two things that we can take from the second round of the Rugby Championship 2014.
- The All Blacks are clearly not ‘on the slide’. In fact if anything they are on the up and up and all the 12-all draw did was to inspire them to dick punch the Wallabies in their faces, hard.
- The Pumas’ ‘Bajada’ scrum is a thing of beauty, unless you are the Springboks, then it is a thing of nightmares.
A New Zealand radio station has been criticised after running a competition to see how far its male listeners will go to win tickets to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The Edge offered tickets if two heterosexual male friends got married. “We’ve done stranger weddings, naked weddings, same sex weddings but this is the first one that we know will end in divorce,” the station said in its promotional material.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has made it clear that Sonny Bill Williams will be on the end of year tour, though there are no guarantees he will play any games.
Hansen has voiced his views on the controversial decision to get Williams instantly into the All Blacks selection mix on his return from rugby league, even though he may not have played for his Counties Manukau union. His selection would be against ordinary New Zealand Rugby regulations.
Victor Matfield is over his injury problems and will rejoin the Springbok squad when they get together for the Australasian leg of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, while Marcel van der Merwe has been called up for the injured Frans Malherbe.
Furthermore, Willem Alberts has also been drafted back into the squad, pending a fitness test on Thursday when the squad gets together in Johannesburg. Both Alberts and Matfield were part of the initial 30-man squad, but missed out on the victories over Argentina in Pretoria and Salta because of injury.
Eleven legends of New Zealand rugby have been inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame at a special ceremony in Auckland on Friday 21 August, staged the night before a Bledisloe Cup match in Eden Park.
This latest induction represents the incorporation into the IRB Hall of Fame of many of the International Rugby Hall of Fame, which was recently acquired by the IRB and presentations were made by Hall of Fame panel member Don Cameron and New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew. The new inductees are: Fred Allen, Don Clarke, Grant Fox, Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Jones, Ian Kirkpatrick, John Kirwan, Terry McLean, Colin Meads, Graham Mourie and George Nepia.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The IRB Hall of Fame recognises those who have made an indelible mark on our sport through feats on the field of play, displays of great character or through their tireless and inspirational work in driving forward our great Game.”
Possession, Position, Pace – the Three P’s of rugby preached on a regular basis through his career by the great Otago man Charlie Saxton, and still applicable in this modern era.
But on Saturday night at Eden Park the All Blacks might have been more about the three “A’s”.
Accuracy, Attitude, and Anger?
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers is clear that his team need to take a massive step up before they face the Wallabies in Perth in their next Castle Lager Rugby Championship game on 6 September.
The Bok captain arrived home from the great Salta escape – where the Boks needed a penalty four minutes from time to beat a plucky, aggressive Argentinean team – knowing that the weight of public outrage at the result would be waiting for his team.
But De Villiers is a pragmatist, and, as he points out: it wasn’t the greatest of performances, but a win is a win.
The Wallabies will have plenty of down-time over the next week to ”mentally relax” after their humiliation by the All Blacks at Eden Park, captain Michael Hooper has said.
The 22-year-old flanker was one of the few Australian players to stand up during the 51-20 onslaught, which kept the Bledisloe Cup, the annual trophy contested between the two nations, in New Zealand hands for a 12th consecutive year.
Frans Malherbe will miss the rest of the Rugby Championship after sustaining a serious injury to his right ankle in Salta.
Malberbe helped to stabilise the Bok scrum when he replaced Jannie du Plessis in the 46th minute, but was forced to leave the field in the 79th.
The tighthead prop will consult with a specialist in Cape Town upon his return to South Africa, when a call on further treatment and his replacement will be made.