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.
The 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.
Nothing beats a grudge game and the whiff of verbal cordite is swirling ahead of the Super rugby semifinal between the Waratahs and Brumbies.
The hostility is connected to the Wallabies test in Dublin last year when 15 players were disciplined for drinking and breaking curfew amid suspicions they were dobbed in by several of the Brumbies.
A number of the Tahs were intent on reprisal but bypassed any physical mischief when they easily won their round-robin contest last month 39-8. The Tahs are keen to imprint a physical message behind their determination to reach next week’s final.
Former All Blacks fullback Greg Cooper can’t believe Nemani Nadolo is yet to unwrap one of his deadliest tricks.
Cooper, who coaches Nadolo at his Japanese club NEC Green Rockets, hasn’t been surprised the Fijian wing has been a sensation at the Crusaders this season but reckons he can offer even more.
While everyone knows how effective Nadolo can be with the ball in hand, Cooper says one of the best ways to expose defences is to sling cross-kicks to his left wing and reckons there is an 80 per cent chance of scoring if it is executed correctly.
“He is the best winger I have ever seen when taking the ball from cross-kicks,” Cooper, speaking from Japan, emphasised.
Former Sharks assistant coach Chris Boyd doesn’t expect to see the South African side resorting to cynical behaviour or niggle to unsettle the Crusaders.
The Sharks caused a 30-25 boilover when the teams last met in Christchurch in May but they had to do it the hard way, playing 64 minutes with 14 men.
Poor discipline plagued the Sharks with loose forward Jean Deysel sent off after stamping on the face of Crusaders opposite Jordan Taufua. Fellow flanker Willem Alberts was sinbinned in the second half for a professional foul.
Boyd, who will coach the Hurricanes next season, was an assistant at the Sharks in 2009 and 2010 under John Plumtree.
Prior to our 1995 World Cup-winning campaign, the late Kitch Christie told us during one particular team meeting that we could either take the high road or the low road to reach the knockout phase writes Brendan Venter.
While we followed the former path having defeated Australia in our opening match, the Sharks’ class of 2014 have taken the latter route. Although more arduous, nothing is impossible in the oval game.
The new Absa Currie Cup Premier Division format featuring eight teams will come into play on 8 August in a fresh start to SA’s top domestic competition, with newcomers the EP Kings taking on DHL Western Province in the opening match.
The official launch of the 2014 Absa Currie Cup competition was hosted by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and sponsor Absa on Wednesday at Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg where the new format was explained and the 2014 marketing campaign revealed.
The launch featured a Tag rugby match between the media, and the players and coaching staff of the Premier and First Division teams.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs have picked up promising former Western Province Under 21 and UCT loose forward, Vincent Jobo, for their Absa Currie Cup campaign and a good showing may even lead to a Vodacom Super Rugby stint for the player nicknamed “The Animal.”
Jobo had an impressive Varsity Cup last year and is one of the rising stars of Cape Rugby. The decision to move to Bloemfontein for the Currie Cup is an excellent one for him as the former King Edward VII schoolboy has fought his way through the ranks and is now being rewarded for his form.
Remember the days when Kobus van der Merwe was still Stormers coach? In 2006 and 2007, the Stormers ended in 11th and then 10th in consecutive seasons in the then-Super 14 under Van der Merwe’s watch.
Under Allister Coetzee since 2010, the Stormers were losing finalists and then losing semi-finalists for two years. But in 2013 and 2014, they ended seventh and 11th.
It is unacceptable for a team like the Stormers to not at least make the playoffs for two consecutive years. So we took a look at what they need to do to avoid missing out again in 2015.
Highly-rated former SA Schools and SA Under 20 hooker Bongi Mbonambi will join Western Province Rugby at the start of the 2015 season.
Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer continues his “Dad’s Army” approach by recalling veteran flanker Juan Smith for a training camp ahead of next month’s Rugby Championship.
French club Toulon confirmed three of their South African signings – Smith, lock Bakkies Botha and wing Bryan Habana – would be involved in the Boks camp.
Smith, 32, hasn’t played for the Boks since 2010 as Achilles injuries requiring four surgeries ravaged his career, eventually forcing him to “retire” early last year.
Waratahs mascot Tah Man has weighed into the controversy over Brumby Jack’s presence at the Super Rugby semi-final, declaring Allianz Stadium a showpony-free zone this weekend.
As the Brumbies and Waratahs tried desperately to defuse the furore surrounding Brumby Jack’s sideline “ban”, the high-strung NSW mascot could not help fanning the fire. “I love animals and horses but I’m not a fan of showponies,” Tah Man told Fairfax Media.
There is a palpable level of excitement in the country ahead of the Commonwealth Games which will be held in Glasgow this year. Driving up the road over the weekend one was reminded by overhead sign boards long before reaching Glasgow of the need to plan ahead and potential difficulties in travelling as a result of the Games.
The online search engine Google has the theme of the games on its page, there is a lot of coverage in the media both online, in print and of course in audio and visual. Radio schedules have already been changed on some stations providing coverage already ahead of the Games which are due to get kick started with the opening ceremony tonight. In advertising it’s radio coverage the national broadcaster has even made a pledge to bring all the action of Scotland’s medal winning events live to the public. Colleagues have members of their family involved on a voluntary basis as ambassadors for Glasgow 2014 with some having already been helping out in the Athletes Village for the last two weeks.
The Cell C Sharks face a daunting task this weekend, there is no doubt about that, and not many will deny that the Crusaders at home are clear cut favorites.
Having to travel to New Zealand to face a Crusader side laden with 18 All Black players in their squad should spell defeat to the side from Durban.
During the build up to this weekend’s match, cliches aplenty will be bandied about and should include phrases like “backs to the wall”, “underdog”, “nothing to lose”. All true and apt, but therein lies the rub.
French rugby powerbrokers have confirmed no decision will be taken on the Florian Fritz concussion saga until the LNR Executive Committee meets in early September – some four months after the Toulouse centre was led bloodied and reeling from the Stade Ernest Wallon pitch.
In the wake of the incident during the club’s Top 14 barrage against Racing Mètro on May 9, the player’s ill-advised return to the game and the apparent misconduct of head coach Guy Novès are the subject of an investigation from a panel of doctors assembled by the LNR.
Repeated attempts from the IRB – who requested the French bodies launch the investigation – to press both the FFR and LNR for answers proved fruitless until Tuesday (yesterday), when a spokeswoman for the professional league administrators confirmed no action will be taken until after the September meeting.
It appears Cheetahs hooker Adriaan Strauss will make a U-turn and decide not to move from the Cheetahs to the Bulls.
It was reported earlier that Strauss’s move to Pretoria was a done deal, but business interests in Bloemfontein now look likely to keep Strauss at the Cheetahs.
According to reports, the Cheetahs also significantly upped their offer for Strauss and he said that he’ll make a final decision on his future this week.
“I would never dream of playing for another club, I love this place,” says Eastern Suburbs prop, Rhys Ward, when asked about his longevity at Woollahra Oval.
The 35-year-old carves out his own slice of Beasties’ history today when he turns out for the 300th time in the tricolour jersey, becoming only the second player in the illustrious history of the club to achieve such a feat.
In rugby, like most sports, teams and athletes have had a bad playing strip or two. Individual sports that comes to mind is cycling and golf. There have been some truly terrible creations that those athletes have worn, all in the name of sponsorship and moolah.
In rugby, its generally the alternate, or so called away strip, where designers indulge in a bit too much whacky weed before sitting down in front of the drawing boards. For the most part, kits are practical and speak of tradition and history, however, there are times that the Sporting and Designing Gods sincerely fall out and abominations like the ones that appear below.
These choices of ours are by no means exhaustive and is fairly recent in it’s selection, however, if you disagree, let us know and tell us which ones you think should have made the cut.
There’s ccertainly been some strange kit in recent years!
It appears the Kit sponsors want to stamp some sort of mark on their creations, so prepare yourself for some more strange jerseys in future!
Clark Laidlaw helped shore up the Hurricanes’ defence this season and he’ll get a chance to further improve the side under new coach Chris Boyd.
Laidlaw will join Boyd and his assistant John Plumtree in the third official appointment to the 2015 coaching staff.
The former Scottish Commonwealth Games sevens representative came to the Hurricanes via Taranaki in 2013 as an in-season skills coach before taking up the task of fixing the leaky defensive line this season.
Laidlaw had immediate success with the Hurricanes keeping their try line intact on two occasions, something they hadn’t managed over the opening three years of head coach Mark Hammett’s tenure, and also conceding fewer points per match than in the previous season.
The Wallabies formalised a tug of war victory over New Zealand rugby today, though from the All Blacks’ perspective ideally Henry Speight will not compromise the world champions’ Bledisloe Cup reign and defence of the Rugby Championship.
One cult figure of Australian rugby replaced another when Ewen McKenzie named a 32-man squad that predictably included the Fijian-born wing – although he cannot be picked for the tests against the All Blacks in Sydney and Auckland next month plus the Springboks in Perth on September 6.
The Hamilton Boys’ High School-educated finisher, who was approached to join the Chiefs in 2012 a year after making his Super Rugby debut for the Brumbies, is expected to make his test debut on September 13 against Argentina on the Gold Coast, two days after an IRB-imposed stand down expires.
Wyatt Crockett sounds like a physics teacher as tries to de-mystify the complicated task of demolishing the Sharks’ mauls.
Few things are as difficult to stop as a turbo-charged lineout drive, yet Crockett emphasises that if the Crusaders’ forwards are organised they should fear little in Saturday night’s Super Rugby semifinal at AMI Stadium.
Splintering a maul, usually off a lineout, requires technique and a pinch of luck, as well as a referee who can spot a dodgy truck-and-trailer routine.
Toulon have released South Africa winger Bryan Habana to play for the Blitzbokke at the Commonwealth Games.
Habana had previously been named in the original squad to compete in Scotland before the club decided to prevent him from participating.
However, Toulon have now announced that the 97-times capped flyer has been released to compete in the tournament before he links up with the Springboks to play in The Rugby Championship.
Schalk Brits is the other big name who won’t be featuring in the competition, after his release was denied by Saracens.
It would seem like Jake White has been listening to and reading the opinion of bloggers on rugby sites. He certainly has a point when during an interview with a New Zealand radio station he mentioned that he also preferred the older versions of the Super Rugby competition.
The majority of the rugby viewing public feel the same way as White and would by no means complain if the tournament is reduced back to the Super 12 or even the Super 14 format.
Jake White is concerned Super Rugby is going down the wrong road as they expand the competition to eighteen teams from 2016′s season.
Juan Smith is set to complete an extraordinary return to Test rugby after being named in South Africa’s squad for a training camp in August, according to Toulon.
Toulon have announced that Smith, along with Bakkies Botha and Bryan Habana, have been selected to attend a South African training camp in August.
Smith, who won the Heineken Cup and Top 14 titles with Toulon last season, has been rejuvenated in France after taking an indefinite break from the sport back in 2012 due to a persistent battle with an Achilles injury.
SARU has announced a squad of 55 school boy rugby players to attend the SA Schools trials on Saturday, 26 July at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park, Johannesburg.
The SA Schools trial squad was selected by the national selectors following the conclusion of the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week in Middelburg.