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South African Super Rugby Franchises

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Super Rugby

Todd Blackadder

Todd Blackadder

CrusadersAfter watching his team demolish the Sharks and qualify for next Saturday’s final, Todd Blackadder was asked how he thought he would feel if he got to lift the Super Rugby trophy as a coach after doing it three times as Crusaders captain.

“I wouldn’t know, I can only imagine,” was Blackadder’s response.

For Blackadder, now is not the time to either tempt fate or get overly emotional. He said the latter was one of his team’s major problems in the lead-up to their last final, the 2011 loss to the Reds in Brisbane. The travel from Cape Town, where they had comprehensively beaten the Stormers in their semifinal, was a big factor, but so, too, were the heightened emotional levels of making a final after a season on the road because of the earthquakes.

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Taine Randall

Taine Randall feels that the Waratahs might just go all the way in 2014.

The glory boys, those pretty boys out of Australian rugby, who have a long history of not living up to the hype, are finally delivering on their promise.

History shows the Waratahs always start well and are always full of talent but tend to welter towards the end. What we’re seeing this season is that may not be the case. They finished the strongest in terms of position on the table and form. They are top qualifier; guaranteed home advantage as long as they’re in the competition and it would be pretty tough to say it wasn’t fully deserved.

The first person you choose in the team is the coach. If you had to choose between the best player and the coach you choose the coach. The coach sets the attitude of the team and there’s no doubt Michael Cheika deserves the greatest credit for the turnaround in fortune of the Waratahs. He’s been a breath of fresh air.

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Will Skelton

BIG UNIT: Young Waratahs lock Will Skelton is developing a strong ability to offload in the tackle.

Dimension-wise they appear far from clones as professional footballers, yet there is a passing resemblance between Will Skelton and Sonny Bill Williams.

The Auckland-born forwards currently play different codes – though Williams returns to rugby at the end of this NRL season – but they share one skill set: an uncanny ability to offload the ball when under defensive pressure.

Williams propensity to keep the ball alive has been a hallmark of his league and rugby career and now the giant Waratahs lock is also emerging as a dab hand at putting teammates into space.

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WaratahsAn enemy turned ally holds the key to the Waratahs’ hopes of securing their maiden Super Rugby championship with a hoodoo-busting victory over the colossal Crusaders.

The Waratahs will tap into the vast knowledge of assistant coach Daryl Gibson, a vital cog in five of the Crusaders record seven Super Rugby titles, in a bid to conquer the champion New Zealanders for the first time in a decade.

The Tahs have lost their past 11 encounters with the Crusaders, including the 2005 and 2008 title deciders, but have identified Gibson’s expert insight into the competition’s perennial superpowers as priceless.

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Gareth Anscombe

Gareth Anscombe

Outgoing Chiefs and Auckland utility back Gareth Anscombe said that he decided to switch his allegiance from New Zealand to Wales after realising he had little hope of making the All Blacks.

Anscombe, 23, who has signed to play for the Cardiff Blues, said he spoke with All Black coach Steve Hansen earlier this year and found he was well down the pecking order in his favoured position of flyhalf.

“There was a lot of factors, but I mean, there’s a lot of classy No 10′s that are floating around in New Zealand right now and they’re all pretty young as well,” he said.

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Jake White

Jake White cut a forlorn figure as he watched his troops getting slaughtered

Sorry, it doesn’t cut it for me to hear people state upon their crushing exit on Saturday from Super Rugby 2014: “Well done Sharks, at least you got to the Semis.”

If they are simply putting it in the context of their superior performance in relation to the other South African sides, my retort is “big deal”.

This was a year, after all, when the collective SA challenge was lamentably disappointing and our teams hogged the basement terrain on the overall table.

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Jacques Potgieter

SLIPPING THE DEFENCE: Lock Jacques Potgieter makes a break for the Waratahs during their 26-8 Super Rugby Semi-Final victory over the Brumbies

The Waratahs have earned a home final beating the Brumbies in the semi final. The Crusaders will travel to Sydney to contest for the Super Rugby title.

The NSW Waratahs’ history-making season is one step from completion with the Super Rugby title favourites hosting the final for the first time after eliminating the ACT Brumbies with a convincing 26-8 semifinal victory at Allianz Stadium tonight.

An eighth consecutive win in 2014 underscored the Waratahs prospects of claiming their first title, though the team that thwarted that ambition in the 2005 and 2008 finals stands in their way.

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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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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika – One of the more “colorful” characters in Super Rugby

From the Coogee stairs to the Super Rugby semis, with a smashed door, poker face and sideline stoush in between, it’s been one hell of a ride for the Waratahs under Michael Cheika.

The fiery coach has helped transform NSW from Super Rugby cellar dwellers to contenders, setting the wheels in motion by lighting a fuse under the underperforming Tahs when he took over the reins last year.

But it’s his second season at the helm that has been the real highlight, and not just because he’s helped steer the Waratahs to the Super Rugby minor premiership and within one win of the grand final.

Along the way the fiery former Randwick forward, renowned during his playing days for his aggressive play on field, has grabbed his share of headlines for some interesting off-field antics.

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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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CrusadersA few years ago there was a discussion at Crusaders’ management and administration level about what would be considered a good season.

It came down to this: making the final or winning the final?

Some thought making the final would be satisfactory – given the vagaries of referees and possible disadvantage of travel and so on. But after a short discussion it was decided only winning the final would be acceptable; the inference being anything short of being crowned champions would be considered a failure.

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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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Richie McCaw

TOUGH AS TEAK: Richie McCaw

He endured the pain of a broken bone in his foot during the 2011 World Cup but Richie McCaw said that was a doddle compared to playing with a fractured rib.

All Blacks captain McCaw hurt his rib in the second test against England on May June 14 and, thinking it was just bruising, he ignored the discomfort to play the third test a week later.

During that match, however, McCaw knew something was seriously wrong.

“By the end of that third test I was pretty sore. With an injured foot it doesn’t hurt when you go into contact – it is only when you are running.”

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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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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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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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WaratahsBrumbiesIt’S the biggest Down Under derby in 12 years — but is the Waratahs vs Brumbies rivalry the biggest in Australian rugby full stop?

NSW vs Queensland has long been the marquee match-up for Aussie outfits, and with 140 years of tradition to back it up it’s little wonder.

But the battle between the Tahs and their “little brother” from down the road in the ACT might have trumped it in recent times.

Wallaby hooker Stephen Moore has the unique experience of playing the Waratahs both as a Reds player (from 2003-08) and now with the Brumbies.

Way back in 2009, when he had just arrived in Canberra, Moore observed of the Tahs-Brumbies enmity that: “it’s equally as big as the Queensland-NSW rivalry.”

And Wallabies great Stephen Larkham, a Brumbies legend as a player and well on his way to becoming one as a coach, reckons it’s gone even beyond equal status.

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Todd Blackadder

Todd Blackadder, coach of the Crusaders

It’s a very fine line between hero and zero. No one is more acutely aware of that than Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder.

There was a time at this stage of the season when the Crusaders were unstoppable. Not any more.

Making it to this point has been something of a meritorious specialty for the last 13 years. However, for all the criticism that is directed his way, Blackadder is the first to admit that he has won nothing.

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Ewen McKenzie

Ewen McKenzie: Wallabies coach says an Australian team winning the Super Rugby title would be a real positive for his side’s Bledisloe Cup prospects

Ewen McKenzie says an Australian side winning the Super Rugby crown would be ”as good as it gets” for the Wallabies’ Bledisloe Cup prospects.

The Waratahs and Brumbies go head to head in a blockbuster semi-final at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, with the winners likely to take on New Zealand superpowers, the Crusaders, in the August 2 championship decider.

The Wallabies tackle the All Blacks two weeks later in the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship opener in Sydney.

“Form and confidence, they’re good attributes to have,” McKenzie said after announcing his 32-man Rugby Championship squad yesterday.

“If you’re out there beating your opponents and winning consistently – and that’s what these teams have been doing – and the Wallabies have been doing the same thing.”

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Luke Braid

LEADING THE WAY: Luke Braid says he still has a lot to achieve in New Zealand rugby

Captain Luke Braid headlines a quartet of Blues players who have recommitted to the franchise for the next Super Rugby season.

Braid, fellow flanker Brendon O’Connor and wing Frank Halai have all signed one-year deals with the Blues while halfback Bryn Hall has re-signed until the end of 2016.

The 25-year-old Braid was a consistently high performer this season, despite carrying a shoulder injury for most of the year, and still has high ambitions in New Zealand. “I’m still incredibly motivated to win something with the Blues and continue to try and make the All Blacks,” Braid said.

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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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imageThe Brumbies have named an unchanged side for Saturday’s blockbuster Super Rugby semifinal against the NSW Waratahs.

It’s a huge boost for the underdog ACT side, who managed to survive last weekend’s bruising 32-30 knockout victory over the Chiefs in Canberra unscathed.

The past fortnight has seen a massive turnaround for the Brumbies, who only one month ago had their season put on life support when the red-hot Waratahs trounced their under-strength outfit 39-8.

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Recent Comments

  • robzim 29 Jul 2014, 23:53 SAST - Alister is probably still in mourning or denial because his favourite player ( Peter Grant) has deserted him and therefore...
  • Pietman 29 Jul 2014, 23:12 SAST - @ nortierd: @2 You spoke my mind! But I didn't want to be as bold as to be the first...
  • Pietman 29 Jul 2014, 23:08 SAST - This nonsense of first black to be this and first black to be that, it only puts undue pressure on...
  • nortierd 29 Jul 2014, 22:49 SAST - @ Pietman: You are right Pietman, but there's this one part of me that can't help thinking....Jake only does what...
  • nortierd 29 Jul 2014, 22:45 SAST - Seriously Allister? Take a leaf out the Sharks' book and appoint someone who WILL feature in all the CC games...
  • Pietman 29 Jul 2014, 22:38 SAST - They don't get it, or do they? This man was chosen because he is the best candidate for the job,...

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