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SA SchoolsThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) announced on Thursday an SA Schools squad of 28 players for the forthcoming Under-18 International series against France, Wales and England, from 10 to 24 August.

The squad was selected following a successful trial match held on Saturday at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park, after the conclusion of the Coca-Cola Youth Weeks.

Nine players from the Blue Bulls were selected in the squad, Eastern Province have four representatives while three players each from KwaZulu-Natal and South Western Districts were selected.

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Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has asked teams not to pick their contracted Springboks for the entirety of this year’s Absa Currie Cup tournament.

In the past, Springbok players returned during the latter stages of the competition, but this year will be different.

The Cell C Sharks were the first team to confirm the matter, with CEO John Smit saying the defending champions have to make the best of the tricky situation.

“It was decided upon that all contracted Boks will play no part in the Currie Cup, which puts us at a bit of a disadvantage,” Smit told Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.

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Conrad Hoffmann

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.

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Chrysander Botha

English club Exeter Chiefs have signed Lions fullback Chrysander Botha ahead of the new Premiership season.

According to Exeter’s official website, the 26-year-old Namibian international touched down at Sandy Park on Wednesday and will join up with his new team-mates next week.

Botha has been tracked by the Chiefs coaching team for some time and assistant coach Ali Hepher believes his arrival will give the Devon club another attacking weapon in their arsenal.

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Kick-off for 2014′s Currie Cup is almost upon us with a full set of fixtures scheduled for 9 August.

Sportingbet have come to the party by pricing up a market for the overall winner of this tournament.

With that in mind, here’s our take on who has a major shot at the trophy and which sides may struggle to keep up with the pace.

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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.

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The inspiring scene of the movie Invictus came to life on the Waratah’s training pitch.

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.

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TEMPER, TEMPER: Waratahs coach Michael Cheika is known to get hot under the collar on occasion.

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.

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All Blacks coach finds positives in likely season-ending shoulder injury of prop Tony Woodcock.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen appears resigned to losing test veteran Tony Woodcock for the rest of 2014 – though he believes there is a significant upside to the loosehead prop’s likely season-ending injury.

Hansen wrapped up the second day of a mini-camp with his non-Crusaders All Blacks in Auckland today, and said the prognosis was looking increasingly dim for Woodcock who was battling a serious shoulder problem.

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Phil Waugh believes that the Waratah pack can dominate the Crusaders

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.

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New Zealand Sevens Captain DJ Forbes and Scott Curry.

The sights and sounds of our national rugby teams struggling in defeat are rare but well worth the wait for those who like to study the innuendo style of excuse-making.

One thing you don’t hear at these times is genuine praise for opponents, of being beaten fair and square.

New Zealand rugby expects and often gets the world to fall at its brilliant feet, but doesn’t give back. Just check a few boorish World Cup losing reactions on that score.

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Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke on Wednesday confirmed Deon Stegmann’s captaincy for his team’s upcoming Currie Cup campaign and named a strong 26 man squad for Friday’s warm-up match against the Pumas in Nelspruit.

“It was an easy decision to call on ‘Steggies’ to lead the team this year,” Ludeke said.

“He is not only one of the most experienced players in the squad, but also one that leads by example on and off the field.”

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Jacques Kallis

Jacques Kallis has acknowledged on Wednesday that his dream of playing in next year’s Cricket World Cup was “a bridge too far”.

Kallis, 38, scored just five runs in three innings in a recent one-day international series in Sri Lanka

“I just knew on that tour that I was done,” Kallis said in a statement.

“The squad that was in Sri Lanka is an amazing one and I believe they have a good chance of bringing the trophy home in March.”

It always seemed a long shot for Kallis to remain competitive through to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next February and March.

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SIGNIFICANT ROLE: All Black Tony Woodcock, charging forward against England in June, may need surgery for a shoulder injury.

Tony Woodcock could be forgiven for feeling undervalued.

Only in his absence is his importance to the All Blacks genuinely appreciated.

Even in the modern game, loose-head props are as influential as prominent openside flankers or quality first five-eighths.

Recent changes to the scrum laws place immense forces on the No.1′s shoulders. Anyone in this role with poor technique or lack of strength is now, more than ever, brutally exposed.

Over the past 12 years, during 110 tests, Woodcock has been that cornerstone; the rock of the All Blacks’ scrum.

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ANOTHER BIG DREAM: Conrad Smith thinks many All Blacks would love the chance to compete at an Olympic Games.

New Zealand rugby bosses continue to debate who and how many top tier fifteens players should be made available for a tilt at Olympic sevens glory, but All Blacks centre Conrad Smith has indicated most players are crystal clear on the issue.

“There’s obviously certain forwards that don’t give it much thought, but for the last year or so certainly some of the backs and some of the guys that have been involved before talk about how they’d love to be involved and why not?” he said yesterday.”

“It’s a pretty unique opportunity to get an Olympic gold. That would be something most guys would jump at.”

It has become clear the New Zealand Rugby Union and the All Blacks management want to help the sevens team secure a gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, but are still debating exactly how to do so.

All Blacks backs coach Ian Foster said it would be a matter of striking a balance between helping the sevens Olympic campaign and not adversely effecting the national fifteens team.

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RELAXED: Crusaders midfielder Ryan Crotty prepares to board the plane to Sydney for the Super Rugby final against the Waratahs.

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.

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Richie McCaw eyes toughest of Sydney test

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.

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The choice of England as the host nation for next year’s Rugby World Cup is a fitting one, as it is of course the birthplace of the game.

There is a good sense of continuity after the 2011 edition in New Zealand, as the Land of the Long White Cloud is considered one of the sport’s great heartlands. There is a sense of the battle for the Webb Ellis Cup moving from one side of the world to the other.

The southern Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk may not be the geographical halfway point between Eden Park and Twickenham but it is not too far from it at nearly 8,000 miles from Auckland and almost 4,500 miles from London.

So, perhaps it is apt that the Russian city is to play host to the Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifier between Russia and Zimbabwe with a place in the repechage final against either Uruguay or Hong Kong up for grabs.

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Stephen Larkham

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham

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.

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Out in force: The Waratahs are hoping to create a sea of blue at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night against the Crusaders.

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.

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Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder

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.

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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.”

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Big Will Skelton

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.

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King Kallis

King Jacques Kallis

Jacques Kallis today announced his retirement from all formats of international cricket.

“I realised in Sri Lanka that my dream of playing in a World Cup was a bridge too far,” the 38-year-old said via a statement released by Cricket South Africa (CSA).

“I just knew on that tour that I was done. The squad that was in Sri Lanka is an amazing one and I believe they have a good chance of bringing the trophy home in March.”

“I would like to thank Cricket South Africa, the team, the team sponsors, my sponsors, the fans and all the people who have been involved in my career. It has been an amazing journey.”

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Nemani Nadolo

OLD BOY: Nemani Nadolo taking part in a Waratahs training session back when he was on their books.

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.

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CrusadersThe 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.

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  • BrumbiesBoy 2 Aug 2014, 10:06 SAST - 29 @ Pietman: Call me old-fashioned if you like but I have got NO TIME for women playing physical-contact sports...I...
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  • 4man 2 Aug 2014, 09:55 SAST - I went Saders by 15 as I recall. They are in form. Brumbies will try. Not that it matters, I...
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