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SA Rugby

Richie McCaw & Nemani Nadolo

STILL GOT IT: Crusaders and All Blacks veteran Richie McCaw celebrates a great night for the franchise with Fijian flier Nemani Nadolo.

New Zealand exhales. Turns out rumours of the decline of Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter have been greatly exaggerated.

McCaw and Carter both produced timely high-quality performances in Christchurch tonight as the Crusaders won through to their 11th – yes, 11th – Super Rugby final with a 38-6 dismantling of the Sharks. The Red ‘n Blacks are now 80 minutes away from their eighth championship – but notably a first since 2008.

On a night when Kieran Read illuminated the big occasion with a stellar demonstration of his remarkable quality, and Fijian find of the year Nemani Nadolo was equally as destructive, the old soldiers McCaw and Carter were not a million miles off the standard set by the best player in the world.

With Read, this sort of stuff is as predictable as it is enjoyable. He is a colossus of the game completely at the peak of his powers. His every minute on the field these days is to be savoured.

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Corey Flynn

Corey Flynn will face his rival as the Crusaders take on the Sharks in Christchurch

Corey Flynn’s journey to tonight’s semifinal, his 150th match for the Crusaders and a clash against Bismarck du Plessis, considered the best hooker in the world, has been a long and often painful one.

There have been the five broken arms which would have forced many to think about packing it in. Not Flynn, though. He has been in and out of the All Blacks – painful in itself, but he believes his many injuries have given him the mental strength to handle it.

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Super RugbyIt is the Semi-Finals of Super Rugby 2014 this weekend! We have only the 2 Semi-Final games in this Round, as all the other 11 teams have now been dispatched. Both games take place on Saturday 27 July 2014.

It is crunch time, as only the winners advance to the Final on 2 August 2014.

The Crusaders and Waratahs host the Semi-Finals, as top contenders on the Combined Super Rugby Log. The challengers are the Cell C Sharks and the Brumbies, who have had to travel in order to see if they can advance against strong home ground advantage, for the Final.

Only 3 Super Rugby games for 2014 remain!

Bonus points for tries and losses within 7 now does not matter anymore, all that is needed is a win.

Let the games continue….

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss who earlier this week was seen wearing a Cheetah jersey at the unveiling of the new look kit.

In a somewhat confusing week for Adriaan Strauss fans, the big question is, did he or didn’t he? Conflicting reports indicate that he signed for the Bulls, and others that he will be remaining at the Cheetahs.

Earlier this week, at the unveiling of the new Blue Bulls and Free State Cheetahs jerseys for the 2014 Currie Cup, Strauss was the poster boy for the Cheetahs.

What I find strange though, is a specific question asked to him during a Q & A session. Have a look at question No. 8 posed to him and decide whether that was already a dead giveaway.

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Justin MarshallYou can attribute a large part of the Highlanders’ demise last week to their struggles at scrum time against the Sharks.

This was reminiscent, too, of the way the Crusaders succumbed to a short-staffed Sharks team in Christchurch during round robin play.

So, without resorting to the obvious, it is vital that the Crusaders avoid getting dragged into a set-piece arm wrestle against the same opposition tomorrow.

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Jake White

Sharks coach Jake White – Feeling confident

They’re 10,966 kilometres from home and massive outsiders for Saturday night’s Super Rugby semi-final, but Sharks coach Jake White thinks conditions could play into his side’s hands.

The Durban-based team know if they want any chance of stunning the Crusaders for the second time this season, they need to stick to their strengths.

On a cold Christchurch night, the Sharks will be aiming to retain possession, build up pressure and utilise their dominant scrum and rolling maul.

The long kicking games of fullback SP Marais and backline general Francois Steyn will also be integral as they seek to play the game in the right areas of the field.

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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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Jamba Ulengo

Jamba Ulengo

The Bulls continued on their wave of signings as they have snapped up Blitzbok star Jamba Ulengo to join them alongside the likes of Bok Trevor Nyakane and loose forward Lappies Labuschagne next year.

Ulengo, who was a regular both in Paul Treu and Neil Powell’s Springbok Sevens sides, is a big fast skilful runner on the wing who loves to score tries and other than his exploits on the HSBC World Sevens Series has also played for Shimlas in the Varsity Cup and for the Toyota Cheetahs at Absa Currie Cup level.

The announcement of the trio – plus the loss of hooker Bongi Mbonambi to the Stormers – will be made in the next day or so by the Bulls after they have completed dotting all the I’s and crossing the T’s on the various contracts and may also include an announcement of Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss as well.

Strauss has been given until Wednesday to make a decision on his future by the Bulls, who are looking to lure him to Loftus as well, but pressure from Bloemfontein, where he owns two businesses and a renewed big money offer from the Cheetahs has given him second thoughts.

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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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SuperBruSuper RugbyRugby-Talk’s SuperBru competition for the 2014 Super Rugby tournament is drawing to a close with only three matches remaining.

In last week’s Qualifying rounds JohnR earned the yellow cap with a solid 5 pointer moving him up 12 places to 31st. Carol still leads the pack of hungry wolves chasing at her heels, but refuses to relinquish her coveted 1st spot. Sharks_Lover is still a close second, with less than a point separating the two.

Both Winston Champ and Charo at 3 and 4 respectively have fallen slightly off the pace, with 3,5 and 5,2 points separating them from Carol.

Before making those SuperBru predictions, let’s have a look at some picks, tips and predictions first.

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Jake White

Is Jake already lining up his excuses?

Is Jake White trying to get his excuses in early should his Shark team lose against the Crusaders on Saturday?

If his tactics against the last placed SA conference side, the Cheetahs, hadn’t backfire and the Sharks were victorious, they would have had the week off and played the semi final at home.

Would he have complained about the format then?

When his Bok team won the 2007 World Cup they did so without having to face either the All Blacks or the Wallabies. White never complained about the format being skewed did he? No, he benefitted and rightly so, the rules are the rules.

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Free State CheetahsFree State Cheetahs new KitPUMA, the official technical and apparel sponsor of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, has unveiled a new heritage-inspired Currie Cup rugby kit in the customary white and russet orange.

“As always the Toyota Free State Cheetahs are looking forward to the Currie Cup competition and this year even more so with our new Currie Cup jersey design from our partner PUMA,” said Kobus le Roux, the Marketing & Sales Executive at the Free State Cheetahs. “PUMA has yet again been able to design a new fresh look for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs without changing our unique traditions. Proudly white and orange! Proudly Cheetahs! Proudly PUMA.”

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Vodacom Blue Bulls KitVodacom Blue BullsPUMA, the official technical and apparel sponsor of the Blue Bulls, has unveiled a new Currie Cup rugby kit inspired by heritage and tradition – with no pink colourways or camo designs in sight.

The jersey in the Blue Bulls’ customary blue is also embroidered with both the PUMA logo and the Blue Bulls’ Daisy on the shirt. Part of PUMA’s evoPOWER Rugby apparel design, the jersey uses a polyester tight fit material which is lightweight, comfortable and robust.

“The ABSA Currie Cup symbolises the long and proud heritage of South African Rugby, so it was important for us not to break away from the traditional look of our ABSA Currie Cup jersey for that very reason. We firmly believe that the simplicity, yet elegance of the design makes a bold statement,” said Barend van Graan, CEO of the Blue Bulls Company.

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Pat Lambie

Pat Lambie

The Cell C Sharks team named by Director of Rugby Jake White shows a number of changes from last week’s line-up, albeit not in any major disruptive way as the team prepare for Saturday’s Vodacom semi-final showdown with the Crusaders, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.

With Anton Bresler falling foul to a knee injury against the Highlanders in last week’s quarter-final win at Kings Park and not making the journey to New Zealand, Willem Alberts shifts from flank to the second row, with his place on the side of the scrum taken by Jean Deysel.

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Richie McCaw

BACK: All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw has been named to return from injury in the Crusaders starting lineup for their Super Rugby semifinal against the Sharks

Richie McCaw has been named at blindside flanker and Corey Flynn will start his 150th Super Rugby match when the Crusaders meet the Sharks in Saturday night’s semifinal in Christchurch.

All Blacks captain McCaw, who hasn’t played since carrying a fractured rib into the third test against England on 21 June, has predictably been named at blindside flanker to allow the in-form Matt Todd to start in his specialist openside flanker role.

Flynn has been elevated ahead of Ben Funnell, who started the previous two matches against the Highlanders and Blues, in the only other change to the run-on side that thumped the Highlanders 34-8 at AMI Stadium on 12 July.

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Nemani Nadolo

LEADING THE WAY: Nemani Nadolo’s speed and strength has boosted the Crusaders this year – helping to push them to the NZ conference title

Former All Blacks fullback Greg Cooper can’t believe Nemani Nadolo is yet to unwrap one of his deadliest tricks.

Cooper, who coaches Nadolo at his Japanese club NEC Green Rockets, hasn’t been surprised the Fijian wing has been a sensation at the Crusaders this season but reckons he can offer even more.

While everyone knows how effective Nadolo can be with the ball in hand, Cooper says one of the best ways to expose defences is to sling cross-kicks to his left wing and reckons there is an 80 per cent chance of scoring if it is executed correctly.

“He is the best winger I have ever seen when taking the ball from cross-kicks,” Cooper, speaking from Japan, emphasised.

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Chris Boyd

INSIDER KNOWLEDGE: Chris Boyd, who will coach the Hurricanes next season, was an assistant at the Sharks in 2009 and 2010 under John Plumtree

Former Sharks assistant coach Chris Boyd doesn’t expect to see the South African side resorting to cynical behaviour or niggle to unsettle the Crusaders.

The Sharks caused a 30-25 boilover when the teams last met in Christchurch in May but they had to do it the hard way, playing 64 minutes with 14 men.

Poor discipline plagued the Sharks with loose forward Jean Deysel sent off after stamping on the face of Crusaders opposite Jordan Taufua. Fellow flanker Willem Alberts was sinbinned in the second half for a professional foul.

Boyd, who will coach the Hurricanes next season, was an assistant at the Sharks in 2009 and 2010 under John Plumtree.

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Super Rugby

Brendan Venter

Brendan Venter

Prior to our 1995 World Cup-winning campaign, the late Kitch Christie told us during one particular team meeting that we could either take the high road or the low road to reach the knockout phase writes Brendan Venter.

While we followed the former path having defeated Australia in our opening match, the Sharks’ class of 2014 have taken the latter route. Although more arduous, nothing is impossible in the oval game.

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Jurie Roux

SARU CEO Jurie Roux at the launch of the 2014 Currie Cup campaign

The new Absa Currie Cup Premier Division format featuring eight teams will come into play on 8 August in a fresh start to SA’s top domestic competition, with newcomers the EP Kings taking on DHL Western Province in the opening match.

The official launch of the 2014 Absa Currie Cup competition was hosted by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and sponsor Absa on Wednesday at Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg where the new format was explained and the 2014 marketing campaign revealed.

The launch featured a Tag rugby match between the media, and the players and coaching staff of the Premier and First Division teams.

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Vincent Jobo

Vincent “The Animal” Jobo

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs have picked up promising former Western Province Under 21 and UCT loose forward, Vincent Jobo, for their Absa Currie Cup campaign and a good showing may even lead to a Vodacom Super Rugby stint for the player nicknamed “The Animal.”

Jobo had an impressive Varsity Cup last year and is one of the rising stars of Cape Rugby. The decision to move to Bloemfontein for the Currie Cup is an excellent one for him as the former King Edward VII schoolboy has fought his way through the ranks and is now being rewarded for his form.

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DHL StormersRemember the days when Kobus van der Merwe was still Stormers coach? In 2006 and 2007, the Stormers ended in 11th and then 10th in consecutive seasons in the then-Super 14 under Van der Merwe’s watch.

Under Allister Coetzee since 2010, the Stormers were losing finalists and then losing semi-finalists for two years. But in 2013 and 2014, they ended seventh and 11th.

It is unacceptable for a team like the Stormers to not at least make the playoffs for two consecutive years. So we took a look at what they need to do to avoid missing out again in 2015.

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Heyneke Meyer

Is Heyneke Meyer putting too many “old eggs” in one basket?

Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer continues his “Dad’s Army” approach by recalling veteran flanker Juan Smith for a training camp ahead of next month’s Rugby Championship.

French club Toulon confirmed three of their South African signings – Smith, lock Bakkies Botha and wing Bryan Habana – would be involved in the Boks camp.

Smith, 32, hasn’t played for the Boks since 2010 as Achilles injuries requiring four surgeries ravaged his career, eventually forcing him to “retire” early last year.

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Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis has grown into the role of leader

The Cell C Sharks face a daunting task this weekend, there is no doubt about that, and not many will deny that the Crusaders at home are clear cut favorites.

Having to travel to New Zealand to face a Crusader side laden with 18 All Black players in their squad should spell defeat to the side from Durban.

During the build up to this weekend’s match, cliches aplenty will be bandied about and should include phrases like “backs to the wall”, “underdog”, “nothing to lose”. All true and apt, but therein lies the rub.

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss

It appears Cheetahs hooker Adriaan Strauss will make a U-turn and decide not to move from the Cheetahs to the Bulls.

It was reported earlier that Strauss’s move to Pretoria was a done deal, but business interests in Bloemfontein now look likely to keep Strauss at the Cheetahs.

According to reports, the Cheetahs also significantly upped their offer for Strauss and he said that he’ll make a final decision on his future this week.

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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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Recent Comments

  • nortierd 1 Aug 2014, 05:27 SAST - I suppose it's expected that NZ, Oz, SA and Eng will be the semi finalists, with France the outsider who...
  • NZINCHINA 1 Aug 2014, 01:17 SAST - What we really wanted to know was did he think SA would make the final, it's a near certainty they'll...
  • Hondo 31 Jul 2014, 23:13 SAST - The Waraths, a great Aussie Side! :wink: Israel Folau – PI Alofa Alofa – PI Wycliff Palu PI Jacques Potgieter...
  • robzim 31 Jul 2014, 22:16 SAST - @ MacroBull: Grey should call themselves " Die Vaal Haaie"
  • MacroBull 31 Jul 2014, 22:13 SAST - hmmm three full backs and 2 centres
  • MacroBull 31 Jul 2014, 22:11 SAST - @ robzim: and Grey College calls themselves "die blou machine"

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