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BarbariansThe Irish Rugby Football Union and The Barbarian Football Club have confirmed on Monday that they will play a match at Thomond Park, Limerick on Thursday 28 May 2015.

The fixture forms part of the Barbarians’ Summer Tour, which also features a game against England at Twickenham on Sunday 31 May.

The year 2015 marks the 125th anniversary of Barbarian rugby, making its Summer Tour fixtures against Ireland and England even more special.

Irish Rugby Football Union President Louis Magee said: “This promises to be a truly memorable occasion as both the IRFU and Munster welcome the Barbarians back to Ireland again. The celebrated Barbarians brand of rugby will bring an entertaining game to Thomond Park and one which I am sure Ireland and rugby fans will look forward to seeing.”

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Aaro Mauger

Aaro Mauger

Crusaders Assistant Coach, Aaron Mauger, has accepted the Head Coach role with his old Leicester Tigers club from the 2015 / 2016 season.

Mauger, who will complete his third Super Rugby season as Assistant Coach with the Crusaders in 2015, played 53 games for the Leicester Tigers between 2007 and 2010 and captained the side for much of the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

He says it is a dream opportunity to return to a club that he is so fond of, in a head coach capacity.

“I have awesome memories of my time at Leicester as a player and it is a place I will very happily return to.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have the chance to do that as the head coach for the club and the timing is right for me to grab that opportunity.

“My aim is to help create the framework for Leicester to once again be amongst the top clubs in European and world rugby.

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AustraliaAustralian men’s Sevens head coach Geraint John has named his 12-man squad that will travel to Asia for the Dubai Sevens in December.

The pacy duo of Greg Jeloudev (ankle) and Allan Fa’alava’au (ineligible) return after sitting out the Gold Coast Sevens World Series opener in October.

Veteran forward Jesse Parahi misses out after breaking a finger in training last Thursday and will undergo surgery on Monday. Afa Pakalani (shoulder) and Shannon Walker (foot) are also unavailable through injury.

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Special EditionThe starting side who did duty for the Springboks on Saturday as well as one replacement, have all left the Springboks to return to their respective Clubs in France and Japan.

  • Johan Goosen returns to Racing Metro in France
  • Bryan Habana returns to Toulon
  • JP Pietersen returns to the Panasonic Wild Knights
  • On the Springbok bench, Gurthrö Steenkamp returns to Toulouse in France

Of course Bakkies Botha has now retired from International Rugby and accordingly also leaves for Toulon, whilst Morné Steyn (who was not used on Tour) returns to Stade Français.

Schalk Burger joins his Japanes Club, Suntory Sungoliath.

This leads us to the burning question as to the composition and changes in the Springbok run-on team and 23-man squad for Saturday’s encounter with Wales, who held a lead over the All Blacks till the 69th minute, this past Saturday, before conceding a blitz of 3 tries, which blew the score against them out of proportion.

Mind you, one more Springbok tourist is also leaving the squad, thus unavailable for selection, namely Seabelo Senatla, who was released to the Springbok Sevens squad (or Blitzbokke as they are affectionately referred to) for the 2 remaining HSBC Sevens World Series Tournaments in 2014… the tournament in Dubai and the one in South Africa the week thereafter.

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Varsity CupThe FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International for 2015 is set to continue its grand tradition of trying out experimental laws, further cementing the tournament’s status as a testing ground for the laws of rugby.

This season sees the exciting reintroduction of the WHITE CARD – which was used in the inaugural 2008 Varsity Cup Final. The WHITE CARD is a card that can be used by either coach or captain to review a decision by the referee.

This exciting experiment is endorsed by the South African Rugby Union (SARU). Andre Watson, SARU General Manager Referees, had the following to say on the WHITE CARD.

“This is a step in the right direction to assist referees to get that important decision correct, and to put some responsibility on the captain and coaches to help with the process.”

The WHITE CARD challenge system is to only be used during the Varsity Cup. The team challenge, or WHITE CARD, can be called by the team coach or captain.

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Seabelo Senatla

Seabelo Senatla

Seabelo Senatla has been released from the Springbok touring squad at the request of the Springbok Sevens and will return to South Africa on Sunday.

Senatla will join the Blitzbokke as they prepare for the next two tournaments in the HSBC Sevens World Series, in Dubai and Port Elizabeth.

“We’ve got a very good relationship with Neil (Powell) and the Sevens, so we’re happy to help,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“At this stage we won’t be calling up a replacement as we have enough cover at the back.

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SpringboksSpringbok coach Heyneke Meyer and national captain Jean de Villiers both lauded the performance by South Africa in their 22-6 (8-6 at half-time)victory over Italy in Padua (Padova) on Saturday afternoon.

The Springboks scored three tries to nil, with Coenie Oosthuizen, Cobus Reinach and Bryan Habana crossing the Italians’ try-line. Pat Lambie added a penalty goal to lift him to 100 Test points and Handré Pollard slotted two conversions.

It was the first time since June 2008 that the Springboks had managed to keep Italy from scoring a try and the first time ever the Azzurri failed to cross the South African try-line in a Test in front of their home fans.

“I’m very happy with the result and fact that we didn’t concede any tries and no points in the second half,” said Meyer. “I’ll always prefer a try-count of 3-0 instead of 5-3.”

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Bakkies Botha

Bakkies Botha

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer paid tribute to Bakkies Botha, who announced his retirement from international rugby shortly after the Test.

“Bakkies will go down in history as one of the greatest Springboks of all time,” said Meyer of the 85-times capped lock forward. “He is a giant on the field and off it and never gave an inch, which personifies what Springbok rugby is all about.

“I’ve coached him for a very long time and while I’m immensely very proud of the player he’s become, I’m even more proud of the man Bakkies has become. I’ll forever be very proud of having been his coach.”

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Bakkies Botha

John Philip “Bakkies” Botha – The Springbok ENFORCER calls time on his International career.

Springbok lock and Rugby World Cup winner Bakkies Botha has announced his retirement from international rugby.

Botha, who made his Test debut on 9 November 2002 against France in Marseille, while his 85th and final appearance for South Africa was last Saturday, when he came on as a replacement in the 31-28 victory over England at Twickenham.

During a stellar career, the 35-year-old lock won the Rugby World Cup with the Springboks in 2007 and was victorious at almost every other level of the game.

He has winners’ medals from the Castle Lager Rugby Championship (Tri-Nations), British & Irish Lions Series, Vodacom Super Rugby, Absa Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup, as well as the Heineken Cup and French Top 14.

Botha is the seventh most-capped Springbok of all time, is a three-time SA Rugby Player of the Year nominee (2003, 2004 and 2005) and holds the world record for the most Tests as a lock combination in the starting line-up with Victor Matfield (63).

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Duane Vermeulen and Brodie Retallick - Brodie beat Duane and the other nominees as Player Of The Year 2014, after a monsterous season by the big brute of a lock.

Duane Vermeulen and Brodie Retallick – Brodie beat Duane and the other nominees as Player Of The Year 2014, after a monsterous season by the big brute of a lock.

Brodie Retallick becomes the fourth New Zealander to be named World Rugby Player of the Year, while the All Blacks and Steve Hansen also win awards.

New Zealand second row Brodie Retallick has been named the World Rugby Player of the Year 2014 by an independent panel, the fourth player from his country to win the prestigious award.The 23-year-old has enjoyed a fantastic year in the middle of the All Blacks’ pack and follows in the footsteps of teammates Kieran Read (2013), Dan Carter (2005 and 2012) and Richie McCaw (2006, 2009 and 2010).

He edged out Willie le Roux (South Africa), Julian Savea (New Zealand), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland) and Duane Vermeulen (South Africa) for the award in a closely fought contest during a year of spectacular performances on the international stage.

The accolade completes a hat-trick of awards for New Zealand, as the All Blacks were named World Rugby Team of the Year 2014 for the eighth time and Steve Hansen the World Rugby Coach of the Year 2014 for the third year in succession.

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Paul O'Connell

Paul O’Connell

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell insists that past, bitter experiences mean that their first double over South Africa and Australia since 2006 does not necessarily guarantee a successful World Cup.

The 35-year-old lock, named man of the match after the thrilling 26-23 victory over the Wallabies, was part of the 2007 team that lost the Six Nations title on points difference, and then experienced a nightmare World Cup campaign, having been considered dark horses for the title.

“We’ve been here before and it didn’t serve us well,” said O’Connell.

“All we are trying to do is improve game by game. We will go into the Six Nations and try to improve on what we have done in November.

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Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt

Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt may have spent the night in hospital recovering from appendix surgery but if he needed anything to raise his spirits then Sunday’s press would do the trick.

‘Ireland have the world’s best coach’ read the headline in the (Irish) Sunday Independent following the epic and courageous 26-23 victory over Australia on Saturday ensuring the Six Nations champions completed their first double over South Africa and the Wallabies since 2006.

Former Ireland lock Neil Francis opined that after both sides had played like the Harlem Globetrotters in the first-half – the Irish roared into a 17-0 lead only for Australia to score 20 points before Jonathan Sexton levelled to make it 20-20 at halftime – Schmidt’s call at the interval secured victory.

“Joe Schmidt realised that if he did not cool the pace of this game, Ireland would lose it hands down,” wrote Francis.

“Quite often, the race goes to the slow and Ireland were quite the more measured side and chose to kick and play territory far more intelligently than they had in the first half.”

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Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has clearly marked his team’s challenge, after again dominating world rugby in 2014 – winning an unprecedented back-to-back World Cup in 2015.

After crashing out in a shock defeat by France in the 2007 quarterfinals, the All Blacks stormed to World Cup glory on home soil in 2011.

Since then, they have been in awesome form, losing only one match this season, to the Springboks by two points, after having already wrapped up a third successive Rugby Championship.

And Hansen, speaking after his team produced a second half five-try fest to see off Wales 34-16 on Saturday, was in no doubt about what lay ahead for him and his charges.

“No one’s won back-to-back World Cups so we shouldn’t even be the favourites, but we will be because we’re the number one side in the world,” said Hansen.

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Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland

Wales coach Warren Gatland’s record against the Southern Hemisphere giants of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa now stands at played 27, won one and lost 26 after a 16-34 defeat at the hands of the All Blacks.

That solitary win was against the Wallabies, 21-18, back in 2008, but Gatland insisted that his team did not lack self-belief against the SANZAR nations, praising New Zealand’s kicking game in a brutally entertaining match in Cardiff.

“It’s not a matter of belief. It’s sometimes just getting across the line and doing it, and the first time you do that, it’s easier the next time,” said Gatland.

“That’s a big thing for us, we get over that line and that’s what will create that belief and that composure to finish a game off.”

Gatland, himself a Kiwi who took charge of Wales after the 2007 World Cup, added of the “nearly-men” tag.

“It’s disappointing. You’ve got to keep working hard to try to rectify that in terms of critical moments when we’ve come under a bit of pressure.

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George Ford

George Ford

Owen Farrell

Owen Farrell

England coach Stuart Lancaster will make potentially the most important selection decision of his tenure when he chooses between George Ford and Owen Farrell as his starting flyhalf for next week’s match with Australia.

Ford, 21, was handed his first start on Saturday and grabbed the opportunity with both hands as England beat Samoa 28-9.

In 80 minutes of a patchy overall team performance he tried more, and achieved more in terms of inventive attacking ideas, than steady and reliable Farrell has mustered in the last 18 months.

He also landed five of his seven goal kicks, an area where Farrell is considered to have the edge.

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Gilbert Rugby BallOnly one more Internatonal Test to be played today, that between Georgia vs Japan at 17:00 SA Time and Georgian Time, the rest of the results are in already!

Some surprising results all around, with the Italian Azzurri holding the Springboks to a limited win, Ireland narrowly beating the Wallabies, Wales containing the All Blacks untill the 69th minute before letting in 3 quick tries and France falling to a spirited Argentinian Pumas side.

The rest of the results, well they are pure wall decorations, for want of a better expletive.

The Weekend’s International Results are as follows:

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Four International Tests overlapped or at least partly overlapped one another between 18:30 to almost midnight on Saturday 22 November 2014, SA Time.
Seeing as all 4 matches were broadcast LIVE on TV in South Africa… although on 2 different SuperSport channels, we hosted all FOUR in one GLOBAL ARTICLE!

 

IrelandAustraliaIreland (20) 26 / 23 (20) Wallabies (Final Score)

Ireland and the Australian Wallabies did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland at 18:30 SA Time (16:30 BST & GMT, 03:30 Sunday AEST).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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WalesNew ZealandWales (3) 16 / 34 (3) All Blacks (Final Score)

Wales and the New Zealand All Blacks did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales at 19:30 SA Time (17:30 BST & GMT, 06:30 Sunday NZ Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.

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EnglandSamoaEngland (13) 28 / 9 (6) Samoa (Final Score)

England and Samoa did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Twickenham, London, England at 21:00 SA Time (19:00 BST & GMT, 09:00 Sunday Samoa Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

*******************

FranceArgentinaFrance (3) 13 / 18 (15) Los Pumas (Final Score)

France and the Argentinian Pumas did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Stade de France, Paris, France at 22:00 SA Time (21:00 French Time, 20:00 GMT, 17:00 Arg Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.

*******************

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FijiUSAFiji (15) 20 / 14 (0) USA (Final Score)

Fiji and the USA Eagles did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Stade De La Rabine, Vannes, France at 20:00 SA Time (19:00 French Time, 18:00 GMT, 13:00 Can Eastern Time, 07:00 Saturday Fiji Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was STREAMED LIVE by World Rugby (IRB) at http://www.worldrugby.org

*******************

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South AfricaItalyThe Springboks played Italy in a Test for the first time in 1995 when they were reigning as World Champions. They won the match 40-21, and since then have played Italy 10 times.

The Springboks have won all 11 but then unusually for Northern Hemisphere teams, Italy have played more Tests against South Africa in South Africa rather than at home – seven in South Africa vs four at home. But those 11 matches were not the first rugby contacts between the two countries.

Rugby in Italy started to get organised in the late 1920’s. Before that it was a haphazard affair when wandering Brits and contact with France that had led to matches here and there. In the 1920’s it enjoyed the support of Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy, a man who saw himself as the emperor of a new Roman Empire. As in imperial times, people enjoyed the blood sport of the amphitheatre, so in this new empire Il Duce would have rugby. Not that he had played the game as at 1,69 he would have been small even as a scrumhalf.

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CanadaThree changes to Canada’s starting XV have been announced by Head Coach Kieran Crowley for Saturday’s test match against Romania in Bucharest to close out 2014 and the year-end tour.

Captain Tyler Ardron, who has been unavailable throughout Canada’s November tour so far due to injury, will lead the side from the number eight position, while Jon Phelan slots in at second-row beside veteran Jamie Cudmore and Pat Parfrey comes off the bench to start at flyhalf.

The rest of the side remains unchanged from last weekend’s narrow 23-13 loss to Samoa, where a late dropped pass gifted Samoa an easy try to snatch away a potential historic victory for Crowley’s outfit.

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

The Bulls were dealt a cruel blow just days into their pre-season, with confirmation that Springbok Flip van der Merwe is set to miss the start of the 2015 season.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, confirmed that Van der Merwe will undergo surgery next Tuesday after damaging his pectoral muscle.

“It was a freak accident,” Ludeke said, when asked about the burly lock that was ruled out for the latter half of 2014 after suffering a serious knee injury during the second Springbok Test against Wales in June.

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Exodus

European clubs targeting Springboks to join their cash-flush clubs after next year’s Rugby World Cup will this time have more of a fight on their hands than before, after the South African Rugby Union’s (SARU) Springbok contracts are likely to be enforced with more vigour.

In recent days we’ve seen growing reports of Boks that may be heading overseas after the Rugby World Cup. This week it was Duane Vermeulen’s link with a French club and Bath – the latter willing to offer around R7.8-million a year for the IRB Player of the year nominee’s services.

Previously both Flip van der Merwe and Eben Etzebeth have been linked with moves overseas to French clubs while sources in France tell of Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, Francois Hougaard, Willie le Roux and even Jan Serfontein being privately courted with offers to go overseas.

However, here is the catch. Those with Springbok contracts cannot enter into any negotiations with any club before 1 July 2015, leaving them a matter of 2 months to sort out their post-World Cup careers before the showpiece event takes place.

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Beauden Barrett

Beauden Barrett

New Zealand take on Wales at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday with no Dan Carter on the teamsheet, young gun Beauden Barrett entrusted to drive the All Blacks around the park.

Barrett has spent most of the last two weeks simulating English and Scottish attackers as he missed out on selection for the 24-16 victory over the latter behind Carter and Colin Slade, while he came on for Aaron Cruden for the last quarter in the 24-21 win at Twickenham.

But coach Steve Hansen has had no qualms about throwing the 23-year-old Hurricanes playmaker a chance for a rare start in a match-up in which Wales’ last victory came way back in 1953.

“We’ve got total belief in him though, otherwise we wouldn’t have put him in there,” Hansen said, adding that a fly-half’s role was simple.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

Keven Mealamu

Keven Mealamu

Richie McCaw will become the first player to captain the All Blacks in 100 Tests when he leads New Zealand against Wales on Saturday in his 137th Test.

The 33-year-old flank was named to captain the All Blacks for the match in Cardiff, which could provide some insight into head coach Steve Hansen’s view of his strongest lineup, a year from the next World Cup.

It will be a fitting occasion, as McCaw captained the All Blacks for the first time against the Welsh exactly 10 years ago today, on 20 November 2004, in his 25th Test. McCaw has won 89 of his 99 previous Tests as captain.

Beauden Barrett has replaced Aaron Cruden at starting flyhalf, beating out two other top-class players competing for the No 10 jersey – Dan Carter, the world’s top Test point-scorer, and the versatile Colin Slade, who was named to the bench.

The All Blacks will boast an experienced starting forward pack, with hooker Dane Coles and props Wyatt Crockett and Owen Franks making up the front row while Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock return to the second row, with Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read joining McCaw in the back row.

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WalesWales are hopefully heading for a rugby crescendo when they host “red-letter” world champions New Zealand on Saturday, according to the Welsh team’s defence coach Shaun Edwards.

“It is always a red-letter day when the All Blacks come to town,” said the Wigan and Great Britain rugby league legend.

“And also the fact they are the current world champions makes it a little more special. Whenever a team are world champions, for that period it is a special fixture when they come to your home ground.

“With it being the All Blacks, it is that bit extra special as well.”

After two punishing fitness-focused weeks in camp ahead of the 33-28 defeat by Australia, an experimental Wales scraped past Fiji 17-13, but Edwards said normality had returned.

“We’ve gone back to our standard week. We are pretty happy with our fitness levels,” he said.

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George Ford

George Ford

George Ford is set to make his first Test start after being selected at flyhalf in a revamped England side to play Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday.

Ford, all of whose four previous Test appearances have come as a replacement, now finds himself in the No 10 shirt with regular fly-half Owen Farrell moved across to inside centre by England coach Stuart Lancaster despite unimpressive showings in this month’s defeats by world champions New Zealand and South Africa

Farrell played the first two matches of his England career, in 2012, at inside centre when he was also alongside Brad Barritt, who is again set to be his midfield partner against Samoa this weekend.

“It’s great to give George a start in this series after he missed the summer tour through injury,” Lancaster said in a Rugby Football Union statement published on Wednesday.

“George has been impressive in camp and is now fully up to speed with the game plan and is ready to run the game. Owen switches to 12 and I’m sure will support George well.”

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight

Wing Henry Speight will finally make his Test debut for Australia, against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

His inclusion is one of four changes to the Wallabies’ starting line-up, following their three-point loss to France last weekend.

The 26-year-old Speight will be the third player to make his debut for Australia on the team’s European tour, joining Sean McMahon and Tetera Faulkner.

In the three other changes, lock Sam Carter, back row forward Luke Jones and centre Matt Toomua will join a starting XV that has 488 games of Test experience.

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IrelandSix Nations champions, Ireland have made two changes to their starting line-up for their match against Australia at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

Veterans Gordon D’Arcy and Rory Best are the only two changes from the team that beat South Africa a fortnight ago.

D’Arcy, who will win his 81st cap, comes in at centre for the injured Jared Payne while Best, who will make his 78th appearance for Ireland, has recovered from injury to take his place at hooker, dropping Sean Cronin to the bench.

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FranceRising star Teddy Thomas has been sanctioned by French coach Philippe Saint-Andre for missing a training session, and has subsequently been dropped for Saturday’s Test against Argentina in Paris.

Thomas made a stunning debut against Fiji, becoming only the second Frenchman to score a hat trick of tries on his first appearance for Les Bleus adn followed that up by scoring his fourth International try in two matches against Australia a week later.

The 21-year-old earned a third straight call-up on Wednesday for the Test against the Pumas but the young Racing-Metro player forgot to attend training on Wednesday evening, along with the squad at the French national training centre at Marcoussis, outside Paris.

And Saint-Andre and his deputies, Yannick Bru and Patrice Lagisquet, decided to drop Thomas and called up Toulouse wing Maxime Medard, who has 40 caps for France, in his place.

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Agustín Creevy

Agustín Creevy

Nicolás Sánchez

Nicolás Sánchez

Argentinean head coach Daniel Hourcade has made four changes to his starting 15 for their final November Test against France in Paris on Saturday.

Nicolás Sánchez replaces Juan Martín Hernández at flyhalf which sees the latter move to inside centre.

Hernández will be partnered with Marcelo Bosch in the midfield after Bosch returned to the squad from doing club duties while Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino moves to the bench and is replaced by Juan Imhoff.

The only change in the forwards sees captain Agustin Creevy returning to the hooker position at the expense of Matias Cortese, who is relegated to the bench.

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SamoaSamoa’s Census Johnston is set to win his 50th international cap this weekend after being named in the side to play England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The tighthead prop, who has also played three Tests for the combined Pacific Islands team, lines up in the front row with hooker Ti’iPaulo and loosehead prop Sakaria Taulafo.

Samoa have made six changes to the starting XV that beat Canada 23-13 in Vannes, north-west France, last Friday.

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Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen

Trevor Nyakane

Trevor Nyakane

Teboho Mahoje

Teboho Mahoje

Coenie Oosthuizen

Coenie Oosthuizen

The Springbok starting team to face Italy in Padova on Saturday shows four changes from the side which beat England at Twickenham last week, with three new faces amongst the pack and one in the backline.

There are also five changes on the bench, with Nizaam Carr and Julian Redelinghuys included in a Test match-23 for the first time.

Trevor Nyakane will start his first Test for South Africa at loosehead prop, while Coenie Oosthuizen moves up from the bench to replace the injured Jannie du Plessis at tighthead. Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje returns to the starting line-up while Johan Goosen has been selected at fullback.

Joining Carr and Redelinghuys on the bench, are Gurthrö Steenkamp, Lood de Jager and Willie le Roux. Tendai Mtawarira has been given a break after carrying a heavy workload recently.

“I’m excited to see what these guys can do on Saturday in what will be a stern Test against a fired-up Italy,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“We planned to make a few shifts for this Test as I’d like to see if these players can make the step up. The guys coming in deserve their opportunities and seeing that we won’t have our overseas-based players available next week against Wales, it made sense to bring a few of them in this week.”

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ItalyItaly coach Jacques Brunel has selected Fijian-born flank Samuela Vunisa in the only change to the team to face the Springboks on Saturday.

Vunisa, who has yet to play for Italy after being called into the squad for the November Tests, will replace Simone Favaro in the loose trio after the Treviso player suffered a sore neck in training.

In the only other notable switch, Leonardo Sarto has been pulled back to the right wing with Luke McLean going the other way to the left wing.

Italy beat Samoa 24-13 in their opening Test and despite last week’s 20-18 defeat to the Pumas, coach Jacques Brunel said he had seen enough to confirm the nucleus of his team for the Springboks, which he described as “the form team of the November series”.

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Rudy Paige

Rudy Paige

Marnitz Boshoff

Rudy Paige and Marnitz Boshoff have been called up to the Springbok squad for the last week of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour in Cardiff next week.

Paige, from the Vodacom Blue Bulls and the Xerox Golden Lions’ Boshoff will join in the squad on Sunday to provide specialist cover at scrumhalf and flyhalf as the Springboks’ overseas-based players are not available for the last match of the season due to the fact that it falls outside the Test window.

“This means that Jano Vermaak, Morne Steyn and Johan Goosen are not available to face Wales, which is why we had to get in specialist cover at scrumhalf and flyhalf,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

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