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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

Gary Gold and Andries Bekker’s Kobe Kobelco Steelers have crashed out of the Japanese Top League with a 43-12 semi-final defeat to Yamaha Júbilo on Saturday.

According to reports, Bekker made little impact in the game and failed to take control of the lineouts, while Jaque Fourie did not play because of injury.

Kobe coach – and new Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold – cut a dejected figure in the stands as his team, who had topped the log, were taken apart by a side they had beaten by a similar margin during the group stage.

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IrelandLeinster loose forward Jack Conan and Connacht prop Nathan White were the only uncapped players picked in Ireland’s 46-man training squad for the Six Nations on Thursday.

Conan has impressed for his region in the absence of the injured Sean O’Brien and the rested Jamie Heaslip.

The New Zealand-born White was set to become Ireland’s fourth-oldest debutant at 33 in the November tests, but ruptured an arm tendon in camp. He’s expected to make his comeback to action on Saturday for his province in the European Challenge Cup.

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Nick Mallett

Nick Mallett

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says England made a mistake by not appointing him and New Zealander Wayne Smith as coaches 3 years ago.

Mallett, 58, was in line for the England head coaching job but lost out to Stuart Lancaster.

In an interview with The Times, Mallett said he would have appointed Smith as his assistant coach had he got the England job.

Smith was the All Blacks’ assistant coach when they won the 2011 Rugby World Cup and also helped the Chiefs to back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013.

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Jake White at Montpellier

Jake White at Montpellier

World Cup winning coach Jake White has revealed that he has been asked by Montpellier president Mohed Altrad to remain on as coach of the French Top 14 side.

White, former Director of Rugby at the Sharks, was brought in to replace Fabien Galthie who was suspended on 29 December after a string of defeats.

“The president wants me to stay,” White said in an interview in l’Equipe and Midi Libre newspapers.

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Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown and Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter (right)

Kelly Brown is determined to work his way back into the Scotland squad after being overlooked for the Six Nations.

The 32-year-old former captain failed to make Vern Cotter’s 32-man pool but is convinced he can still add to his 64 caps.

“It’s clearly disappointing, but selection is a funny thing,” Brown said.

“I want to play for Scotland and I certainly feel I can play for Scotland. I don’t feel over the hill yet.”

Saracens flanker Brown began last season’s Six Nations campaign as captain, although he was dropped later in the tournament. Since then Cotter has replaced Scott Johnson as head coach and Brown believes he has plenty still to offer, with the World Cup later in the year.

Brown has played once under Cotter, in a 19-17 win over Canada in June, but was not selected for the Autumn internationals.

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Sean Maitland

Sean Maitland

Scotland international Sean Maitland will join London Irish next season.

Maitland, who signed for the Warriors in October 2012, has made 38 appearances for the club and has scored 11 tries during his spell in Glasgow.

The 26-year-old winger has 15 caps and 2 tries for Scotland.

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said: “Sean has played a big role at the club over the last 3 years and we wish him all the best when he leaves at the end of the season.

“There is still a lot of rugby to be played between now and then and I’m sure he’ll want to leave the club on a high in the summer.”

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Glasgow WarriorsGlasgow Warriors head to Bath this Sunday with a number of outcomes still possible in Pool 4 of the European Rugby Champions Cup with quarter-final places at stake.

The Warriors will be looking to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time in their history.

Toulouse are currently top of the pool with 16 points while Bath are second with 15 and the Warriors have 14. Montpellier are out of the running for a quarter-final spot with three points.

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CrusadersNew Crusaders captain Matt Todd will lead a very inexperienced team south to Timaru to take on the Highlanders in the first pre-season outing on Saturday.

The team to play in this port city in the southern Canterbury region of New Zealand is made up of current squad members, wider training group members and some players who have been involved in the pre-season as part of the Crusaders apprenticeship system.

The game will be played in 4 quarters with rolling substitutions.

None of the Crusaders’ frontline All Blacks – Dan Carter, Wyatt Crockett, Israel Dagg, Owen Franks, Ben Franks, Richie McCaw, Luke Romano, Colin Slade or Kieran Read – will feature in the match.

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John Schwalger

John Schwalger

Hurricanes prop John Schwalger, nephew of Mahonri Schwalger, has sustained further blood clots on his lungs and has been ruled out for a majority of the Super Rugby campaign.

The All Black first suffered the ailment, originally believed to be a chest infection, last year and played only 6 games for the Hurricanes.

He also skipped Wellington’s dismal NPC campaign.

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Western ForceThe Force has named a 31-man squad to tackle the Brumbies at McGillivray Oval this Friday night in the club’s opening pre-season fixture of its 10th anniversary season.

Friday’s match will provide the first opportunity for the club’s passionate ‘Sea of Blue’ to see the Force in action in 2015, with Tetera Faulkner and Kyle Godwin in line to make their first appearances since returning from the Wallabies’ Spring Tour, while Nathan Charles will make his comeback from a pectoral injury suffered in Australia’s loss to the All Blacks during their Rugby Championship match in August.

The club will unveil 4 of its new recruits, with back-rower Ross Haylett-Petty, lock / back-rower Steve Mafi, and winger Mitchell Scott in line to represent the Force for the first time. Associates centre Ammon Matuauto has also earned his first opportunity in a Force jersey, after being promoted to the side’s wider training group following an impressive National Rugby Championship season for the Perth Spirit.

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Charlie Faumuina

Charlie Faumuina

All Black prop Charlie Faumuina has bucked the trend and re-committed to the Blues and New Zealand Rugby to the end of 2017.

One of the most mobile props in the game, 28-year-old Faumuina has established himself as a dominant and versatile tighthead, with the ability to play both sides of the scrum.

He has re-signed to play in New Zealand in 2016 and in 2017.

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew welcomed Faumuina’s recommitment as a great result for the All Blacks and Blues.

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Derick Hougaard

Derick Hougaard – Saracens

Derick Hougaard

Derick Hougaard – Blue Bulls

Derick Hougaard will have a foot in both camps next Saturday, as Saracens face South African giants the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Allianz Park.

The fly-half, who played for both Saracens and Sanlam Challenge opponents the Vodacom Blue Bulls, has warned Saracens that their latest South African opponents will pose their greatest threat to their 100% record against South African opposition.

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Ben Venter

Ben Venter

South Africa lock Ben Venter revealed on Wednesday he is set to join Top 14 rugby union side Bordeaux-Begles.

Venter will fill in for Adam Jaulhac who is absent for 3 months after undergoing surgery on a herniated disc.

“I’m proud and happy to announce that I’m going to join Bordeaux-Begles,” the 27-year-old Venter wrote on his Twitter account.

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Hi,

We have 4 NEW SuperBru Pools for all to join!

  • The RBS SIX Nations 2015 starts on 6 February 2015, so hurry up and do not delay to register for it!
  • The FNB Varsity Cup 2015 starts on 9 February 2015, register for it too, whilst the iron is hot!
  • The Vodacom Super Rugby 2015 starts on 13 February 2015 and the first warm-up games in preparation of the season start this weekend… can’t wait… you HAVE TO register for this SuperBru Pool!
  • The Cricket World Cup 2015 starts on 14 February 2015 and although Rugby-Talk.com is primarily about rugby, we dabble a bit in the devious art of cricket too… join us!

As is usual, Rugby-Talk.com’s SuperBru Pools are open for ALL REGISTERED SUBSCRIBERS of Rugby-Talk.com, so if you are not yet registered here on Rugby-Talk.com, do so without delay! It is so easy to register and such fun to discuss rugby here.

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Roger Federer

Roger Federer

Self-confessed sports nut Roger Federer goes to watch games whenever his schedule allows and is in no doubt who he’ll be cheering at this year’s Rugby World Cup – South Africa.

The tennis great’s mother Lynette is South African – she met his Swiss father Robert while he was working in Gauteng – and this is where his allegiances lie.

“I’ll be supporting South Africa, of course,” he said when asked who he will be cheering for.

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Frans Ludeke

Frans Ludeke

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke says it’s important for his team to eradicate some “bad habits” as they prepare for this year’s Super Rugby competition.

The Bulls will play two warm-up matches – against the Cheetahs (Polokwane – 24 January) and Saracens (London – 31 January) – before starting their campaign against the DHL Stormers at Loftus Versfeld on 14 February.

“The expectations are big,” Ludeke said. “We made some changes in pre-season an it’s important that we get rid of some bad habits.”

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Demetri Catrakilis

Demetri Catrakilis

Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis is the latest player linked to a move abroad, with French club Montpellier reportedly his destination. (Also see Update below)

Montpellier, currently coached by World Cup-winning former Springbok mentor Jake White, has been linked to a host of South African players – including the Du Plessis brothers Jannie and Bismarck.

Montpellier also secured the services of Wallaby scrumhalf Nic White, who will join them next season and be reunited with his former club coach White.

According to the French media the 24-year-old Brumbies No 9, White, has – along with Catrakilis – signed a 2-year contract with the option of extending it by a further year.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

The first playing squad of the Stormers has been named already for the first Stormers warm-up match against SWD and it certainly looks like Scarra Ntubeni will have first pick at hooker, but Bongi bonambi, the imported hooker from the Bulls will not go away, he’ll battle for the starting spot all season and Scarra Ntubeni will have to be at his best… and stay injury free, to keep the pecking order in his favour.

Allister Coetzee is faced with a delicate balancing act, considering who he has available and who are carrying niggles and injuries.

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Braam van Straaten

Braam van Straaten

The obsession of some South African teams with size over skills could come back to haunt them when the Super Rugby season gets underway next month.

Springbok Braam van Straaten says space and not power is the key to winning the SANZAR showpiece.

Abraham Johannes Jacobus van Straaten, who played flyhalf and centre for the Springboks in 21 Tests from 1999 to 2001, said the intent of more teams is to keep the ball in hand and shift into space.

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Cricket BallSouth Africa and the West Indies battled each other in the 3rd ODI, at Buffalo Park, East London.

Prior to the start of the game, South Africa had already won the 1st two ODI’s in the series of 5 ODI’s.

The West Indies won the toss and elected to bat.

South Africa struck early TWICE, dismissing both dangerous openers, Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith, with only 6 runs on the board, Vernon Philander doing the damage on the bowling side and AB de Villiers taking both catches behind the stumps.

The West Indies lost their 3rd wicket, that of Deonarine, with the score on 33. Ramdin’s wicket fell with the tally on only 43 and Samuels went for 26, with the West Indies reeling on 52 / 5 after 16.5 overs.

A further wicket lost, with the West Indies on 83 / 6 after 24.2 overs, then another on 87 runs, and another 2 wickets on 95 and 96 runs… leaving only 1 wicket standing after 29.2 overs.

The last West Indies wicket fell, with only 33.4 overs bowled, West Indies ALL OUT for 122 runs.

South Africa started the chase and lost the wicket of Riley Rossouw (7), with the score on 27 / 1 after 5.4 overs, then consolidated andd started batting down the small target. South Africa’s 50 came on the scoreboard after 12 overs. South Africa’s score was 93 / 1 after 20 overs, needing 30 runs to win, off the 30 remaining overs.

South Africa hit the winning runs on 24.4 overs and won by 9 wickets (with 152 balls remaining).

 

West Indies: 122 All Out (33.4 Overs)

South Africa: 124 / 1 (24.4 Overs)

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BrumbiesThe Brumbies will field 8 Wallabies, including David Pocock, this Friday – when they head to Perth to face the Force in the first Super Rugby hit-out of 2015.

In the backs the likes of Matt Toomua, Nic White, Christian Leali’ifano, Joe Tomane and Henry Speight will all feature, while 2014 top-try scorer Robbie Coleman will also travel west for the game.

The Players’ Player of the Year, Jarrad Butler, fronts a strong pack of Brumbies forwards – including Pocock, who has been named for the first time since February last year when he suffered a ruptured ACL.

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ScotlandThe Scotland Women squad for the 2015 RBS 6 Nations includes a mix of experience and relatively newer faces, with a number of players having worked their way through the age grades and progressed from Scotland Women Under 20.

Worcester prop Tracy Balmer captains the squad again, lining up in the front row alongside 71-times capped Heather Lockhart while back row Rachael Cook – who hails from Larbert Academy and was part of the Scotland Women under-20 side who defeated Finland two years ago – will be looking to add to her five caps won last season.

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Sekope Kepu

Sekope Kepu

Both Sekope Kepu (Waratahs) and Nic White (Brumbies), have added their names to the long list of Australian Players who will pack up and go play rugby in France after the Rugby World Cup of 2015.

 

Sekope Kepu:

Australian international prop Sekope Kepu has become the latest addition to the conveyor belt moving players from the Southern Hemisphere to France.

Kepu signed a three-year deal with ambitious Top 14 club Bordeaux-Begles.

The 28-year-old Wallaby – who will join after this year’s World Cup – is the second player from the Waratahs to join the club coached by former France captain Raphael Ibanez.

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BlitzbokkeNeil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, admitted on Tuesday he will have to make some tough choices when announcing his touring party of 12 players for the next two World Sevens Series tournaments in New Zealand and the United States.

The Wellington Sevens takes place on 6 and 7 February in the New Zealand capital and will be followed by the Las Vegas Sevens a week later, where the South Africans are the defending champions.

Despite the absence of Cheslin Kolbe as a result of Super Rugby commitments with the Stormers, Powell still has a very strong group of players to choose from.

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Gareth Anscombe

Gareth Anscombe

New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe has been included at flyhalf in Warren Gatland’s 34-man Wales squad to contest the Six Nations.

Apart from Anscombe there are 3 other debutants in Scarlets prop Rob Evans, Cardiff Blues Kristian Dacey and Newport Gwent Dragon, Tyler Morgan.

Scott Andrews and Gareth Davies are recalled and join 28 players who were involved in the recent End Of Year tour.

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Harlequins No 8 Nick Easter and Sale Sharks flyhalf Danny Cipriani have been named in Stuart Lancaster’s England training squad for the forthcoming Six Nations championship.

The 34-man group will meet up at Pennyhill Park on Monday 26 January, to prepare for their tournament-opening match against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Friday 6 February.

There are also places for 5 British and Irish Lions – as Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints), Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Tom Youngs (all Leicester Tigers) and Mako Vunipola (Saracens) return from respective injuries.

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Jerry Collins

Jerry Collins

Former All Blacks captain and back-row forward Jerry Collins has joined second-flight French club Narbonne as a stop-gap for the injured Rocky Elsom, the club said on Monday.

Narbonne’s player-owner Elsom, a former Wallabies captain himself, has an injured shoulder that will sideline him for three months. The 34-year-old Collins has played in France before, at Toulon in the 2008-2009 season, after seven seasons at Wellington.

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Rugby-TalkIt’s PUB NIGHT again… I have finally shaken off my lazy bones!

The heading suggests we talk about “Fetchers”… and “Maklike Girls”, but keep it tidy boys or yerrrr might be “Fetching” some ban time… hahahaha!

I cannot get past the need of a true fetcher in rugby and in the absense of such fetcher the need to contract 2 more quality fetchers, post haste!

Last year’s Super Rugby and International rugby yet again underligned the value of players like Michael Hooper, Richie McCaw, Marcell Coetzee, Heinrich Brussow, Deon Stegmann and their ilk and the teams who played without classic “Fetchers” had to dig deep to make alternative plans to fill that void.

Filling that void can be done, but it is my considered opinion that those plans are contrived measures, rather than the natural order of things.

I’m not saying the “fetcher” role is the most important role in rugby, but it ranks right up there with the other absolutes!

“Maklike Girls” on the other hand is not a requirement… just a blessing… oh-oh… now I’ve stepped into it… I retract what I have just said… totally!

Talking about filling voids… and I mean it in a “Fetcher” type of way, not in the “Maklike Girls” kind off way… behave yourselves, please!

It is time to fill your voids in the PUB tonight, the FIRST PUB NIGHT of 2015.

Let’s focus on the PUB tonight…. the idea with PUB NIGHT is to lighten up our dull Tuesday evenings with music, comedy and fun.

Rugby takes a backseat tonight as the clan and fellow rugby nutters gather and wheel in their old friends…

Read the rules below carefully, or you WILL get burnt!

Just for clarity sake, when someone does not adhere to the Rules of the PUB, EVERYBODY jumps on them and pummels them, right… understood?

 

Here’s how it works:

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ScotlandHugh Blake has become the latest player to join the Kilted Kiwi brigade, joining his fellow countrymen Blair Cowan and Sean Maitland in the Scotland squad. It came as a big surprise to see Blake’s name on the team sheet as the Junior All Black and Highlander, now getting his first call up to a Scotland squad, only joined Edinburgh in December last year.

He played in an ‘A’ team fixture for Edinburgh against Glasgow Warriors on 22 December and had to leave the field injured, suffering from concussion following a knock to his head which knocked him out for a bit. Flanker Blake (1.87m and 102kg) has yet to appear for the senior Edinburgh team and what makes his inclusion even more baffling is that he was introduced as being recruited for a trial period on his arrival in Edinburgh.

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DHL StormersA 28-man DHL Stormers squad will head to George this weekend, as the Men from the Cape start their 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby preparations against the SWD Eagles at Outeniqua Park on Saturday (Kick-Off 16:30 SA Time).

Stormers squad for George:

New captain Duane Vermeulen will lead a starting XV with four Test players – three Springboks and an Argentine international – whilst props Steven Kitshoff (back from a long-term injury) and Vincent Koch (a new signing) are the other noteworthy inclusions.

Dillyn Leyds, after making his return from Australia during last year’s Absa Currie Cup competition, will start on the left-wing – part of an exciting back three with EW Viljoen on the right-wing and speedster Cheslin Kolbe lining up at fullback.

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Tim Nanai-Williams

Tim Nanai-Williams

Versatile Chiefs back Tim Nanai-Williams, while pushing for qualification to play for Samoa, could be forced to choose club over country.

The 25-year-old is pursuing a loophole through the international Sevens circuit that will allow him to play for Samoa at the World Cup later this year because his parents were born in the islands.

If his Chiefs team make a deep run in the Super Rugby play-offs however, he will miss the historic test match between the All Blacks and Samoa in Apia this July.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made it clear that Nanai-Williams will be putting his franchise first in the event of a clash as they will still be in the Super Rugby window.

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BullsThe Vodacom Bulls have named their team to face the Toyota Cheetahs in Polokwane on Saturday.

Saracens & the Blue Bulls have also published a Vodacom Blue Bulls squad for the encounter the following week in London.

 

Toyota Cheetahs in Polokwane:

New Vodacom Bulls recruits Lappies Labuschagne and Trevor Nyakane will face their former Toyota Cheetahs teammates in Polokwane on Saturday when the two Vodacom Super Rugby sides clash in a friendly match in the Peter Mokaba Stadium.

Flanker Labuschagne and Nyakane, who was selected at loosehead prop, moved north at the start of the season and will be part of the first hit-out of the season for the Pretoria side.

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Francois Uys

Francois Uys

Francois Uys will lead a strong Toyota Cheetahs side into battle when they travel to Polokwane to take on the Vodacom Bulls in their pre-season friendly on Saturday.

Uys has been appointed captain for the game, with coach Naka Drotske opting to choose a captain later before the start of the season.

Still, the Cheetahs team includes a host of new recruits, as well as two Springboks in Coenie Oosthuizen and Lood de Jager up front as they gear up for a tough Vodacom Super Rugby season.

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Rohan Janse van Rensburg

Rohan Janse van Rensburg

Lions centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg is enjoying life at his new team after making the move to Johannesburg from the Bulls.

Janse van Rensburg is considered to be one of the top talents coming through the South African rugby ranks. He was recognised as one of the top young centres after showing great pedigree as a schoolboy at Waterkloof, while he also enjoyed a successful run as a junior at the Bulls between 2010 and 2014.

He impressed for the Junior Springboks during last year’s Junior World Championship before injury prematurely ended his tournament.

The 20-year-old now enters a new and exciting chapter in his career has he completed a move from the Bulls to the Lions after the Currie Cup. He hopes to achieve more senior accolades at his new team.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers, Springbok captain, with knee dislocation injury against Wales

Injured Springbok captain Jean de Villiers is holding on tight to his dream of recovering in time for the World Cup tournament.

The Bok medical team and their counterparts from Western Province said on Monday they will work together in the coming months to ensure De Villiers is afforded every opportunity to make a successful comeback to the playing field in time for the global showpiece in September and October.

The Bok captain will continue with his rehabilitation following the serious knee injury he suffered against Wales last November.

Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts is in charge of the rehabilitation process.

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