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WhistleThe Match Officials for all End Of Year Tours (November Internationals) as well as all other rugby of significance have been named.

South African referee, Jaco Peyper, is appointed for the England vs Samoa match and Glen Jackson will officiate in the Ireland vs Australia game in Dublin.

South Africa gets another French referee, Jérôme Garcès for the clash against Italy in Padua, whereas the Wales vs All Blacks game in Cardiff will be handled by Stuart Barnes.

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Redefine PropertiesCurrie Cup runners up, the Golden Lions, have lost one of their sponsors ahead of the 2015 season.

Redefine Properties recently announced it would not be renewing its three-year sponsorship of the team.

Redefine stepped forward to rescue the Golden Lions Rugby Union in 2012 after a previous sponsor said the union was insolvent.

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Luther Burrell

Luther Burrell

Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees

Luther Burrell and Billy Twelvetrees are both in contention to face Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday, after Burrell was named in the group preparing for the third of England’s year-end Tests.

The Northampton Saints centre, who scored three tries in the 2014 Six Nations, is among 28 players recalled by Stuart Lancaster to Pennyhill Park on Monday – after recovering from a hand injury.

Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni, missing from the 28-31 defeat to South Africa with a thigh injury, has not recovered sufficiently to retake his place in the squad and will remain at the club.

Domestic colleague Kyle Eastmond suffered concussion towards the end of the match last Saturday and will undergo the graduated return to play protocol in hope of playing against the South Sea Islanders.

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Juan Imhoff

Juan Imhoff

Argentina lost their way following last month’s historic 21-17 victory over Australia in the Rugby Championship, wing Juan Imhoff admitted on Monday.

Since that first success in the Four Nations competition at the 18th attempt, Argentina have lost against Scotland (41-31) and narrowly beaten Italy (20-18) but they failed to produce the kind of performance that undid the Wallabies.

“We still don’t have sufficient maturity to climb the international ladder,” said the Racing-Metro wing.

“After Australia we lost our heads a bit. We thought we could beat Scotland because we’d beaten Australia.

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Paul Perez

Paul Perez

Sharks CEO John Smit has confirmed the arrival of Samoan and former EP Kings wing Paul Perez to the Sharks.

Perez arrived earlier on Monday at the Sharks headquarters in Durban, after his contract with the Kings was terminated.

Perez now joins Michael Horak, who also made the move up the coast, to take up a role as defensive and kicking coach fro the union.

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Chris Henry

Chris Henry

Ireland’s Chris Henry missed the recent win over South Africa with a brain injury, rather than a migraine, the Irish Rugby Football Union announced Monday.

Team medical staff initially diagnosed a virus on the morning of the 8 November match, against the Springboks, before suspecting a severe migraine.

However, specialists have since determined that “a temporary blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain” forced 30-year-old Ulster flank Henry to miss Ireland’s surprise 29-15 victory over the Springboks.

“Chris Henry suffered some weakness on the morning of the South Africa game and a viral illness was suspected, he recovered quickly and the initial diagnosis was of severe migraine,” read the IRFU statement.

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IRBThe International Rugby Board said Monday it wanted no repeat of Samoa’s threatened boycott of this weekend’s match against England ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Samoa’s players had warned they were contemplating pulling out of Saturday’s clash at Twickenham as a protest against their treatment by the Samoa Rugby Union.

IRB chief executive Brett Gosper, speaking at the World Rugby ConfEx in London said talks involving the SRU, the players, the International Rugby Players’ Association and the IRB meant “there is no threat to the game whatsoever at Twickenham”.

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IRB Hall Of Fame

  • First women among the legends honoured
  • Nine greats from men’s game also named
  • Winners of Spirit of Rugby and IRB Development awards also announced

Fifteen legends of men’s and women’s rugby have been inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame at a special ceremony in London on Monday, midway through the World Rugby Conference and Exhibition.

This latest inductions include the first women to enter the Hall of Fame as well as some greats of the men’s game.

The new inductions are: Nathalie Amiel (France), Gill Burns (England), Patty Jervey (USA), Carol Isherwood (England), Anna Richards (New Zealand), Farah Palmer (New Zealand), Keith Rowlands (Wales), Jim Greenwood (Scotland), JPR Williams (Wales), Michael Lynagh (Australia), Jo Maso (France), Keith Wood (Ireland), Ieuan Evans (Wales), Jason Leonard (England) and Bill Beaumont (England).

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IRBThe Wallabies 26-29 loss to France in Paris will result in Australia moving to 4th position overall in the IRB rankings.

Meanwhile Ireland, who defeated Georgia 49-7, moves into the top three in the world.

This is despite Joe Schmidt’s men not gaining any rankings points over 15th placed Georgia, and they will jump from fifth to third in the biggest move of the weekend.

Likewise the All Blacks made no difference and remain number one after playing eighth placed Scotland.

The Springboks improved their position by nearly a full ranking point with their 31-28 win over England.

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Coenie Oosthuizen

Coenie Oosthuizen

If the Springboks stick to their current pecking order, utility prop Coenie Oosthuizen faces probably the most acid examination of his scrummaging ability as a tighthead against Italy in Padova on Saturday (16:00 SA Time).

Coach Heyneke Meyer has already said that first-choice No 3 Jannie du Plessis, who hobbled off in the 65th minute of the 31-28 victory over England at Twickenham, is unlikely to be ready for the Italian challenge.

The Boks will be heavily tipped to beat them – whether they put out an experimental sort of combination or not — but the one area where the Italians traditionally provide fierce opposition is at scrum-time, and this weekend is expected to be no different.

As former Italy coach Nick Mallett pointed out in the SuperSport studio on Saturday, they have a strong and experienced front row, especially with that burly cult figure Martin Castrogiovanni back in the mix on the tighthead side, where he should earn his 98th cap on Saturday.

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Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

The Springboks have two main injury concerns following their bruising 31-28 victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Prop Jannie Du Plessis hobbled off in the 64th minute of the game after he went down awkwardly at the breakdown, which team doctor Craig Roberts is currently investigating.

“Jannie hyper-extended his knee in a ruck and was caught quite awkwardly. His foot got stuck in the ground and couldn’t bend his knee which ended up overstretching his hamstring and hyper-extending his knee.

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EnglandSamoaSamoa’s game with England may well be in jeopardy again as the Samoan Rugby Union continues to snub its players over grievances with their governance.

Samoa’s senior internationals issued a public appeal to the Samoa Rugby Union to discuss player grievances after the Union did not appear at talks on Saturday as festering disharmony clouds the future of the team.

Grievances which surfaced at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand remain unresolved, leading to players originally threatening to strike ahead of next weekend’s Test against England at Twickenham.

Although the strike was called off following the intervention of the International Rugby Board, the players say they want their concerns dealt with urgently “to ensure positive change for the benefit of Samoa rugby”.

Former Samoan player Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu, who was banned for six months after tweeting that referee Nigel Owens was “racist” and “biased” when his team lost to South Africa in the 2011 World Cup, has again spoken out on Twitter.

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AustraliaIrelandSix Nations champions Ireland’s hopes of completing a clean sweep of the November tests faces a very tough challenge in the shape of Australia, conceded their coach Joe Schmidt.

The 49-year-old New Zealander – who has turned Ireland’s fortunes round since he replaced Declan Kidney after the 2013 Six Nations – was speaking after a massively revamped Irish side had eventually coasted to a 49-7 victory over Georgia at Lansdowne Road.

The win – the sixth in succession for the hosts – saw Ireland rise to third in the IRB rankings for the first time since November 2006, also coincidentally the last time they beat both South Africa and Australia in the same year.

However, Schmidt, whose side beat South Africa last Saturday, said the Wallabies would pose them all sorts of problems despite having been beaten by France this weekend.

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Victor Vito

Victor Vito

Dominic Bird

Dominic Bird

New Zealand will be without forward Victor Vito for the final match of their Northern Hemisphere tour after he returned home through injury.

The loose forwatd suffered a calf problem before half-time against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday, and was forced to watch the second period from the sidelines as the All Blacks ran out 24-16 winners.

Vito had started the match well, crossing in the ninth minute to register his third international try.

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NamibiaProp forwards Quintin Esterhuyzen and Shaun de Preez have been called up as replacements to join the Namibian team in Carcavelos, Portugal, ahead of Namibia’s final match of their Northern Hemisphere tour.

The pair will join the team later this week as cover after loosehead Jaco Engels injured a hamstring in the match against the French Barbarians.

Engels is undergoing medical treatment and his recovery will be monitored, while the other regular Namibian props Johnnie Redelinghuys and Andrè Schlechter returned home due to personal commitments.

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Tony Jantjies

Tony Jantjies

Eastern Province Rugby has confirmed the signing of Blue Bulls flyhalf Tony Jantjies, ahead of the 2015 season.

“We are extremely excited to have signed Tony, whose family hails from the Graaff Reinet area, falling in line with our goal to bring talented players from this region back to the Eastern Cape,” said EP Rugby president, Cheeky Watson.

Watson said he was positive that Jantjies would be a great addition to the Kings family when he joined the team in January next year.

“I have spoken to Carlos Spencer, who worked closely with Tony’s brother Elton, and he is very keen to begin working with Tony,” he said.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

The Springboks put in a powerful performance full of passion and pride to beat a game England 31-28 in front of a packed Twickenham stadium in London.

In doing so the Boks restored some pride after their Dublin ambush and continued their dominance over England in a run that now stretches 12 matches and back to 2006.

And while the scoreline eventually talked about a close match, the Boks were much more dominant than it suggests, and frustratingly let England into the game at crucial times when they should have put them away.

In the end, a crucial yellow card to lock Victor Matfield – inconsistent from referee Steve Walsh given the rest of his rulings in the game – swept England back into the game when they were staring down the barrel at 20-6 down.

For a brief five-minute period, down to 14 men, the Boks were unable to cope with England`s driving maul and conceded two tries, even though the second one came from a shocking error from the touch judge, who gave the English a line-out when it should have gone to the Boks.

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Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster

England coach Stuart Lancaster insisted there would be no panic after Saturday’s 31-28 loss to South Africa at Twickenham made it five straight defeats for the 2015 World Cup hosts less than a year out from the showpiece tournament.

“We’ve played the top two sides in the world now and that’s the benchmark for us,” said Lancaster, appointed in 2012 following England’s loss to France in the quarter finals of the 2011 World Cup.

“We’ve never said we’re the finished article. When we [the coaching staff] took the roles in 2012 we knew we had to take a young group of players through some tough environments.

“Playing New Zealand first up was always going to be tough but we’re not going to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves,” he added.

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Sir Clive Woodward

Sir Clive Woodward

England World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward criticised the absence of “real footballers” in the Red Rose back division after their 31-28 loss to South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday.

Woodward, who guided England to World Cup glory in 2003, saw current coach Stuart Lancaster’s side match the Springboks up front, but fail match them behind the scrum.

South Africa centre Jan Serfontein grabbed an intercept try in the first half and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, making his maiden Test start, scored his first Springbok try after flyhalf Pat Lambie’s brilliant chip ahead was regathered, at speed, by fullback Willie le Roux a minute after the break.

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FranceAustraliaFrance coach Philippe Saint-Andre insisted the best side won after their 29-26 victory over Australia on Saturday.

The Wallabies almost snatched victory late in Paris after Rob Simmons reduced the deficit to three points in the dying minutes at the Stade de France.

But France held on for the win after Ben Alexander dropped the ball in the final minute as the home team recorded just their third victory against Australia since 2005.

Post-game, Saint-Andre was adamant his team were deserved winners, despite almost throwing away the lead.

“I truly believe the best team won today,” said Saint-Andre.

“Today we can be happy about the intensity and the ferocity the entire French side displayed during the game.

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Steve Hansen

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had no regrets about risking defeat against Scotland by fielding an experimental young side at Murrayfield, insisting that the close call of a contest that ended in a 24-16 victory for the reigning world champions was “a perfect game”.

New Zealand have never lost to Scotland but the hosts were scenting an historic victory as they entered the final 10 minutes just 17-16 down against an All Black side featuring 13 changes in personnel from the team that started the 24-21 win against England at Twickenham seven days previously.

It took a 74th minute try from Hurricanes lock Jeremy Thrush and a conversion by Colin Slade, who started on the right wing but switched to the familiar realm of flyhalf after the 56th minute substitution of Dan Carter, to make victory secure against a spirited Scotland side.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter was unimpressed by his scratchy return in the number 10 shirt against Scotland but grateful just to get through the 24-16 win unscathed.

Starting at flyhalf for the first time in a year after a season blighted by a broken leg, Carter was well below his best at Murrayfield, struggling with handling errors particularly in the opening exchanges before being replaced shortly after halftime.

“That first 20 (minutes) was pretty scratchy and there were a lot of mistakes from me personally which, if I get another chance, I’ll have to improve,” Carter told reporters.

“My option-taking probably wasn’t the best at times. But I was pretty pleased to be back out there playing again and I felt as the game went on I grew in confidence.”

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FijiWalesWales’ narrow 17-13 victory over 2015 World Cup pool opponents Fiji on Saturday was “disappointing and frustrating”, according to coach Warren Gatland.

Despite the South Sea Islanders being reduced to 14 men after prop Campese Ma’afu received a second yellow card in the 52nd minute, the toothless Welsh team remarkably failed to register a score in the second half after leading 17-6 at the break.

Ahead of clashes against world champions New Zealand and South Africa, Gatland said his team’s performance was “disappointing and frustrating”.

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JapanRomaniaJapan fullback Ayumu Goromaru has scored six penalties to give his team a far from convincing 18-13 victory over Romania in the first Test of their European tour on Saturday.

Romania coach Lynn Howells made extensive changes following last week’s 27-17 defeat by the United States but his side lacked the exciting cutting edge displayed by the rugby powerhouses.

Japan, who have reached an all-time high of ninth in the world rankings, started brightly and had the bulk of the possession but could not convert their overwhelming dominance into points.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale

Wayward back Kurtley Beale left Australia to join up with his Wallaby teammates in Europe on Saturday, saying he wants to redeem himself after fearing his international career was over.

Beale received a call-up to join the Wallabies for the last two matches of their northern hemisphere tour after being left out of the touring party for disciplinary breaches.

Beale has not played for Australia since the Wallabies’ loss in Cape Town against South Africa on 27 September.

On the ensuing flight to Argentina to play the Pumas Beale had an argument with then Wallabies business manager Di Patston, which quickly descended into a major scandal engulfing the Australian Rugby Union and leading to the resignations of Patston and Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie.

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Paul Perez

Paul Perez

Eastern Province Rugby have confirmed that they have terminated Samoan wing Paul Perez’s contract with immediate effect.

Perez, who was seen as playing an integral role in the EP Kings plans for the 2015 season, disappeared for two days this week, without justification or permission, and remained uncontactable for the duration of his absence.

EP Rugby president, Cheeky Watson, confirmed that the union had been in the process of applying for Perez’s work permit, and had been obligated to contact the Department of Home Affairs due to concerns raised by his absenteeism.

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NamibiaThe French Barbarians recovered from an early seven-point deficit to beat Namibia 35-14 in Toulon on Friday.

PJ van Lill scored in the fifth minute and Theuns Kotze converted to get Namibia off to the perfect start, but the Barbarians notched 21 points in 15 minutes without reply thanks to a try from Rodrigo Capo Ortega and two from Jules Plisson.

Alexandre Bias and Florian Fresia also scored tries for the hosts while Plisson added the conversions.

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SamoaSamoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has blasted national rugby players who threatened to boycott next week’s test against England as “little kids” who are guilty of “foolish thinking.”

Tuilaepa, who is also chairman of the Samoan Rugby Union, said the threatened boycott was the work of troublemakers within the Samoa team who put money before country.

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ScotlandScotland’s team for Saturday’s test at BT Murrayfield has been announced and no doubt the players and coaching staff will be completely focussed on this match. After all, there is a team from a country called New Zealand who play in black who are in town. However, looking beyond this test would like to discuss the match day squad that would preferably be doing duty at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock, against Tonga next weekend. Rugby Park is the home of Kilmarnock football team, yes that can be confusing but that is not the topic of the this piece.

Scotland’s head coach Vern Cotter has selected the same starting XV that beat Argentina to face the All Blacks , one wonders when last a Scotland coach picked the same XV for consecutive matches. For Tonga though I would suggest wholesale changes to the team for a variety of reasons, the main one being – Glasgow Warriors.

The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU), unlike the case in South Africa, have a direct stake in the two professional clubs here: Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors, and it is with this in mind that my suggestion for the Tonga test is made.

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  • gunther 21 Nov 2014, 11:45 SAST - @ charlesm: Two new batsmen in the batting powerplay not ideal. Maclaren ses to have gone from being our nest...
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  • charlesm 21 Nov 2014, 11:40 SAST - @ gunther: I felt that he and AB should have batted longer. It seems that whenever we enter the powerplay...
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