While it’s perhaps unfair to label Jake White a ‘Tactical Neanderthal’, a well-known Kiwi scribe had a point when he commented on the lack of spark from South African rugby teams in the 15-man code.
New Zealand Herald national newspaper sports columnist, Chris Rattue, earlier this week criticised his compatriots for being less than gracious losers after they lost the Sevens final at the Commonwealth Games to South Africa.
Stormers and Western Province prop Brok Harris’s departure to Newport Gwent Dragons has been confirmed.
The Welsh club confirmed on their official website that the 29-year-old has penned a 3-year deal.
The experienced front row forward has made over 90 appearances for the Stormers since making his debut in 2007 and boasts more than 100 appearances for Western Province.
Phil Waugh says he will be one of the great Waratahs and Daryl Gibson believes he is the “free spirit” rugby badly needs.
Jacques Potgieter just thinks he has never played with anyone better.
“I think Kurtley is the best rugby player I’ve ever played with and the best I ever will play with,” Potgieter says. “The best of the best. When he gets the ball it is like in slow motion, he has got so much time with the ball. And the thing he has taught me is that he always backs himself.”
FROM horror Tahs to Super stars – it’s been a rocky, 19-year ride for NSW rugby fans.
It certainly hasn’t always been pretty – think Matt Dunning’s brain explosion field goal, the 96-19 debacle in Christchurch and getting belted by the Brumbies in the semi-finals.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has a chance to go where no man has gone before him in the Super Rugby annals.
The 42-year-old former All Blacks skipper could become the first person to captain and coach title-winning teams.
Blackadder guided the Crusaders to the first three of their record seven championship victories, the first coming in 1998 when they beat the Blues, 20-13 at Eden Park, breaking the Auckland-based franchise’s hold on the title.
Blackadder endeared himself to the entire top of the South Island region by making a post-game speech acknowledging the team represented Nelson Bays, Marlborough, Buller, West Coast, South Canterbury, Mid Canterbury and Canterbury.
Unusually it was Michael Cheika who found himself on the receiving end, even if the abuse wasn’t personal when he was appointed head coach of the NSW Waratahs after another forlorn Super Rugby campaign.
The abrasive former club rugby No 8 was appointed after Australian rugby’s under-achieving franchise finished a disappointing 11th in 2012 – an outcome that prompted disillusioned fans to detail their frustrations for head office.
Cheika, a Heineken Cup-winning coach with Leinster in 2009, could afford to smile when, on the eve of the Waratahs’ historic home final with the Crusaders, he recalled handling the correspondence.
He is renowned for arguably changing the course of the 2001 British and Irish Lions tour in the Wallabies’ favour by concussing key English flanker Richard Hill, but now Nathan Grey is devising more cerebral tactics to knock the Crusaders of out whack.
Grey’s elbow to the temple of the Lions blindside in the 32nd minute of the second test in Melbourne was credited with shifting momentum against Graham Henry’s team who were unable to recover from the loss of the inspirational Hill for the remainder of the three-test series.
The 39-year-old doesn’t like to dwell on his airborne assault at Docklands (now Etihad) Stadium – it took until the Lions’ next tour to Australia last year for the hard-hitting midfield back to revisit a controversial incident that paled only in comparison to Duncan McRae’s unprovoked attack on Ronan O’Gara in the tour match against New South Wales.
Bath Rugby are looking to sign Will Genia from Queensland Reds, having already snared Sam Burgess from National Rugby League club South Sydney Rabbitohs.
It was reported in June that Bath had been linked with Genia, but now the reporting is that the club has made “an audacious bid” to sign the Wallabies scrum-half and is “now in talks… to lure him to England after next year’s World Cup”.
Bath owner Bruce Craig said in June that he had “already signed some players for post-World Cup going into what we consider our 150th year, which is the 2015-16 season”, but he did not name names.
There are palpable similarities between Waratahs coach Michael Cheika and ex- Bok coach Harry Viljoen.
Viljoen coached the Springboks for love and not money, he was already a multi-millionaire before taking over the reigns from Nick Mallet.
Viljoen quit the post in 2002, two years before his contract would have expired, quoting public criticism as the main catalyst.
Michael Cheika built a successful clothing company, has dabbled in restaurants, speaks four languages, and once dazzled Collette Dinnigan in French to secure a job – utterly unqualified – with the Australian fashion designer.
NSW Waratahs have stoked the fire ahead of the Super Rugby final after skipper Michael Hooper failed to turn up for a photo promoting Saturday night’s blockbuster.
Hooper was supposed to be photographed alongside Crusaders captain Kieran Read and the Super Rugby trophy on Friday.
But the All Blacks No.8 and reigning IRB Player of the Year got sick of waiting and walked off ANZ Stadium with Hooper still a no-show 20 minutes after the scheduled time.
Ahead of the 2014 Super Rugby Final, we have decided to pick out the key head-to-heads set to take place at ANZ Stadium this Saturday.
Five players wore the red and black the last time the Crusaders won the Super Rugby title in 2008, that 20-12 win coming versus the ‘Tahs, who also had five in action. So for Rob Horne, Kurtley Beale, Wycliff Palu, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Benn Robinson the game may well have some feeling.
Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read and Wyatt Crockett were those on the triumphant XV in Christchurch, but will they be again?
Here we look at six battles set to take place in Sydney and judge who might have the edge in the critical areas that could decide the fixture.
Brumbies scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann has returned to play for the Sharks in this year’s Currie Cup, the Durban team announced via their official website.
The 26-year-old played for the Sharks between 2011 and 2012 after joining from Western Province.
His career was hampered by injuries before getting a lifeline at the Brumbies this year. However, a lack of game time at the Australian side has seen Hoffmann return to the Sharks ahead of the Currie Cup season.
The Brumbies believe they can be the first Super Rugby team to tap into the American market, with coach Stephen Larkham to go on a research mission to the US to evaluate untouched talent at universities.
The two-time champions are setting up a “USA Brumbies” academy system based at Arizona State University. Potential recruits will train in the US with the aim of earning a Super Rugby spot.
Larkham and commercial academy manager Nick Leah will fly to the US in September for camps in New Jersey, Minnesota and Arizona to find the best talent for the program.
It’s part of an academy relationship the Brumbies have set up with international teams, which already includes the Papua New Guinea national side and Japanese team Kubota.
It was like a scene out of the movie Invictus.
After the Waratah’s final training session before Saturday’s Super Rugby final, Adam Ashley-Cooper dropped to a knee with the entire squad huddled around him, arm in arm, and recited a poem he wrote himself.
The rhyming stanza lasted for 20 minutes and was met with rapturous applause at its conclusion.
The Waratahs trained in the open in Sydney today and the pressure on coach Michael Cheika was obvious as he oversaw the team’s final significant practice session before Saturday’s Super Rugby final against the Crusaders.
Already on the equivalent of a good behaviour bond after incurring a suspended six-month ban by SANZAR for abusing a cameraman during the Waratahs’ loss to the Sharks in Durban, the notoriously volatile head coach was again irritated when a photographer took images of lineout drills.
“What if I come to your work and start f…king photographing you?” Cheika shouted at the photographer situated behind the goal posts at the Kippax ground near Allianz Stadium.
That message got through but soon afterwards the 47-year-old noticed another photographer at the other end of the field, prompting Cheika – in more conciliatory tones – to ask the Waratahs’ media manager to warn him to stop shooting.
Former Waratahs captain Phil Waugh says the Waratahs pack can “dominate” the Crusaders in the crucial forward battle, if their mental game is spot on.
Waugh, the state’s most-capped player, rejected speculation from sections of the New Zealand media that the seven-time Super Rugby champions would have the Waratahs on toast at set-pieces in Saturday’s final at ANZ Stadium.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has predictably made no changes for Saturday night’s Super Rugby grand final against the Waratahs in Sydney.
Given the way his team dismantled the Sharks 38-6 in Christchurch last weekend there was always an expectation Blackadder would roll out the same side for the showdown at the Olympic Park’s ANZ Stadium.
He barely blinked during the white-knuckled flight over the Southern Alps and Ryan Crotty isn’t worried about what lies ahead in Sydney, either.
Strong westerly winds caused lively turbulence for the Crusaders’ Air New Zealand jet as it flew over the South Island’s spine yesterday, resulting in the pilot reducing altitude and slightly deviating the flight path to give his passengers a smoother voyage.
Given some of the hairy situations they have endured on the field the Crusaders have become accustomed to wild rides, so like his team-mates Crotty could only fasten his seat belt and wait for the bumpy ride to end.
It’s that sort of resolve coach Todd Blackadder will want from his men during Saturday night’s Super Rugby grand final against the Waratahs.
It couldn’t be a more familiar sight. The Crusaders, Super Rugby’s most successful team, arriving to play in another final and Richie McCaw, the most capped All Black ever, sporting a freshly stitched gash under his eye.
The team from Christchurch is after its eighth title and, even away from home, bookmakers are taking three times the money from punters on a Crusaders win.
The Crusaders have history on their side, having beaten the Waratahs in two previous Super Rugby finals.
But this time they are in Sydney, where they haven’t played all season, and McCaw is paying no attention to past records.
He has played just five games in two seasons, but the ACT Brumbies are keen to start negotiations with injured Wallabies captain David Pocock to keep him in Canberra beyond next year’s World Cup.
The Brumbies are already planning for the future just days after being bundled out of Super Rugby title contention by the Waratahs.
Coach Stephen Larkham revealed his intent to start negotiations with Pocock, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander and Pat McCabe, whose contracts expire at the end of next season.
Larkham also hopes to have his back-room staff finalised in the next month, including appointing another assistant coach with breakdown expertise to replace director of rugby Laurie Fisher and a team manager.
A State of Origin-esque sea of blue, an Australian Super Rugby crowd record and the biggest take-up of corporate packages since the Manchester United exhibition match say ANZ Stadium will be the furthest thing from a ”neutral venue” when the Waratahs take on the Crusaders this Saturday.
As Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder and countless New Zealand pundits latched on to the notion the All Blacks’ 54 per cent win record at the Homebush Bay venue would take the sting out of the Waratahs’ home ground advantage this weekend, match organisers were putting the finishing touches to a plan to ensure it will do anything but.
Todd Blackadder cannot believe the Waratahs have ditched their fortress to chase the almighty dollar.
If Crusaders coach Blackadder was in counterpart Michael Cheika’s shoes he would never allow anyone, or any amount of cash, to persuade him to give up home advantage for a Super Rugby grand final.
Rather than play Saturday night’s much-anticipated match at Allianz Stadium, where they have been unbeaten all season, the Waratahs have agreed to relocate to the less familiar – but bigger – ANZ Stadium at Olympic.
Injured Waratahs captain Dave Dennis has revealed some of the secrets which have helped the Waratahs make the grand final this year.
Dennis gave an insight into the Waratahs unique strength and conditioning programme as well as the culture which Michael Cheika has created.
“We have been challenged probably physically more than we ever have as a playing group by Cheik. I think it’s well documented the work we did in the pre season running up hills around Coogee or running around Centennial Park.”
The men they call “Big Will” and “Jackpot” could hold the key to Waratahs glory against the Crusaders on Saturday, so great has been their impact this season.
Giant lock Will Skelton has been nothing short of a revelation. At 135kg and 203cm, the 22-year-old does wrecking ball with finesse.
While Jacques Potgieter, the South African enforcer with flowing locks, has earned cult hero status at Moore Park.
Nemani Nadolo’s thick Australian accent is just one tell-tale sign the New South Wales Waratahs’ decision to let the rampaging winger slip through their fingers could come back to haunt them on Saturday.
The Fiji international crossed the Tasman Sea with his Crusaders side today intent on clinching their eighth Super Rugby title in the final against the Waratahs, who cut him loose after a solitary season in 2009.
“When you are unwanted and have got to go elsewhere and find opportunities I guess when the door shut there you do feel a bit sad,” Nadolo told Television New Zealand of his dumping by the Waratahs before the Crusaders flew to Sydney.
The Crusaders’ forwards, who provided the platform for their semifinal victory over the Sharks with a dominant performance that at times embarrassed the big South Africans, are targeting an improved effort for Saturday’s final against the Waratahs.
Like the Sharks, the Waratahs’ pack is extremely big – lock Will Skelton weighs 137kg – but there is a suspicion they can be brought down to size with aggression and firepower, something this Crusaders outfit has in abundance.
Winger Henry Speight will be sidelined for a month by a hamstring injury and has been replaced in the Wallabies squad for the Rugby Championship by Peter Betham.
Fijian-born Speight was included in the squad last week despite not becoming eligible to play for Australia on residency grounds until 11 September, halfway through the tournament.
The tackle-busting winger sustained the injury in the second half of the Brumbies’ Super Rugby semifinal defeat to the Waratahs last Saturday.
Net ingeval julle nie die grappige gevoel kry nie, hierdie is net ‘n grap, en nie bedoel om ernstig opgeneem te word nie!
Gister het ons n artikel geplaas van Frans Ludeke se “brief aan Oom Murray”.
Ons het egter dit net regverdig gevind om darem nie ‘n vooroordeel te wys teen die Bulls nie, so hier is ‘n “brief” wat Allister al vroeg in die Super Rugby seisoen ook aan Oom Murray geskryf het.
Tatafu Polota-Nau eventually realised kamikaze-style tackling was jeopardising his lifespan as a professional footballer, so the Crusaders should be relieved he has toned down a suicidal approach to defending ahead of Saturday’s Super Rugby final.
The last time Polota-Nau played the Crusaders in 2012, the now 29-year-old was prone to suffering self-inflicted damage – the trade off when the abrasive NSW Waratahs and Wallabies hooker aimed up on a ball carrier or hit a ruck.
The Waratahs have reached the final of the 2014 Super Rugby Tournament.
One may be excused for thinking that the team consists of 23 players and maybe half a dozen more as back up, but that’s not quite the full picture.
Ever wondered how many people are really behind the scenes to see that the 23 on the field are primed and ready to go?
We take an exclusive look at the full management team of the Waratahs.