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Kevin Skinner

All Black Kevin Skinner in 1953

Kevin Skinner, the All Black prop and heavyweight boxer, has died. He was 86.

Skinner made his name for Otago and was selected for the 1949 All Black tour of South Africa as a 21-year-old.

He was labelled one of the side’s successes, making up a hard-as-nails front row alongside Johnny Simpson and hooker Has Catley.

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Sonny Bill Williams

The mercurial Sonny Bill Williams is close to returning to Rugby Union

Dual international Sonny Bill Williams will be considered for the New Zealand’s end of year tour if he is fit and in top form.

That is the word from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen who said time was a factor less than a year out from the Rugby World Cup. Hansen feels Williams’ return to the All Blacks will depend on his condition when he returns from the Sydney Roosters’ NRL campaign and whether he manages to play some part for Counties Manukau in the ITM Cup.

Hansen admitted that he hoped Williams’ return to Test rugby is sooner rather than later.

“There is no doubt he’s an exceptional rugby player and if he’s available then we’d be foolish not to look at him, but we have to take into account he’s come off a big season,” Hansen told Fairfax Media.

“We have to take a whole lot of things into consideration before we make a decision. What’s right for Sonny? What’s right for the team?”

“Next year’s a bit different because we don’t have the June series and if we can’t use him going into the World Cup then if we can have that opportunity to spend time with him then that would be good.”

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Piri Weepu

Piri Weepu leading the Haka

London Welsh are today expected to announce the signing of Piri Weepu from the Auckland Blues, according to reliable sources.

It marks another huge signing in their already impressive recruitment drive, with the 71-cap All Black set to bring real experience of rugby at the very top level. He will join the likes of Olly Barkley and Tim Molenaar in what is starting to look like a very useful back line.

Weepu’s career is yet to take him outside of New Zealand, beginning his career in Wellington both for the ITM Cup side and the Hurricanes, before moving to Auckland and the Blues. It is understood that he has expressed a desire to play in the Aviva Premiership.

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The Rugby ChampionshipWhistleThe International Rugby Board has named the Match Officials for SANZAR’s The Rugby Championship in August and September. A new face amongst them is John Lacey of Ireland.

Lacey has become increasingly prominent this year and last Friday refereed the Test in Cordoba between Argentina and Scotland.

He is an e at -player – a wing or fullback for Munster and Ireland A. His debut for Munster was in 1995 against Transvaal. He played till 2007 when he retired and then became a referee. In 2008 he was refereeing club rugby in the Amlin Cup and the Magners League. In 2009 the IRB chose him as an international assistant referee. In 2010 he replaced injured Greg Gardner at the Junior World Championship where he refereed a semifinal. The next year he was on the international panel as a referee. Now he is going to Loftus Versfeld to referee a Test between the Springboks and the Pumas.

The last Championship matches are on 4 October 2014, the Bledisloe Cup match a fortnight later.

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AustraliaNew ZealandThe Wallabies have set their sights on the all-conquering All Blacks and retrieving the Bledisloe Cup after sweeping their three-Test series against France this weekend.

The Australians had too much firepower for Les Bleus, winning 39-13 in Sydney on Saturday for their seventh consecutive Test win under coach Ewen McKenzie.

It has been 12 years since the Wallabies last held the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy, but McKenzie said there was every reason for Australia to believe that a slice of history could be within their reach against the world champions.

“There’s no mortgage on these sorts of things,” McKenzie told reporters on Sunday.

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New ZealandNew Zealand rugby writers have hailed the All Blacks record-equalling performance to trounce England in the third Test on Saturday, seeing it as a set-back for England’s World Cup hopes.

The “muscularity” of the All Blacks forwards was given as much credit as the flair of the backs who scored all five tries and ran England ragged, particularly in the first half.

“As good as it gets” said Fairfax Media, echoing the thoughts of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, while the Herald on Sunday praised the “well-oiled All Black machine”.

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EnglandEngland came in for scathing criticism from their coaches after failing to measure up to the intensity of the All Blacks, who won the third Test in Hamilton 36-13 on Saturday.

“We started poor and it got worse,” assistant coach Andy Farrell said, referring to a Freddie Burns opening kick-off a that failed to go the required 10 metres, setting the All Blacks up for a first-half rout in which they led 29-6 at half-time.

In the first two Tests, the All Blacks had to come from behind in the second half to win, but in Hamilton they seized control from the start.

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New ZealandEnglandAll Blacks (29) 36 / 13 (6) England (Final Score)

The New Zealand All Blacks and England did battle in the 3rd Test of the June Internationals at

Waikato Stadium, Hamilton at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

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

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Geoff Parling

Geoff Parling

EnglandEngland were on Friday forced into a forward reshuffle on the eve of the third Test against the All Blacks in Hamilton with Joe Launchbury replacing injured lock Geoff Parling.

Launchbury will partner Courtney Lawes to re-establish England’s Six Nations middle-row pairing in what becomes the eighth change to the side that lost the second Test in Dunedin 28-27.

Parling has not fully recovered from a hamstring injury suffered in the Dunedin clash.

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EnglandEngland coach Stuart Lancaster has made a number of changes to his team ahead of the third and final Test against New Zealand at the Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, on Saturday.

Most notably was the decision to move Manu Tuilagi’s back to midfield, making his transition to a Test wing a very shortlived affair.

Tuilagi, who caused trouble for New Zealand from his preferred centre position in the first Test in Auckland, was largely anonymous on the right wing for the second Test in Dunedin last week.

He will be joined in midfield by his first Test centre partner Kyle Eastmond.

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Kieran Read

Kieran Read

Kieran Read will play in his first Test of the year, after finally overcoming the concussion issues that has sidelined him for months.

Read’s inclusion in the starting 15 is one of two changes to the team hat will play England in the third and final Test of the June series at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, on Saturday.

The All Blacks made just the two changes, injecting Read and Malakai Fekitoa to the starting line up as they chase a clean sweep in the series.

Coach Steve Hansen said he’d decided not to try new combinations with the series already won, as he looks to develop his preferred run-on side – who were far from perfect in winning the first two Tests 20-15 and 28-27.

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IRBThere was little change in the International Rugby Board’s rankings after the weekend’s matches, according to the IRB website.

Full IRB World Rankings

New Zealand, who beat England 28-27 in Dunedin to secure the three-match series, remain at the top with 93.81 ratings points.

The Springboks, who beat Wales 38-16 in Durban, stay in 2nd position on 89.34, while Australia – who were 6-0 victors over France in Melbourne – stay in 3rd position (86.92) ahead of England (85.68).

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Owen Farrell

Owen Farrell

England flyhalf Owen Farrell has been ruled out of the third Test against New Zealand on Saturday after straining the medial ligament in his left knee.

Farrell, who was a late arrival in New Zealand due to the English club final, played in the second test at Dunedin, won 28-27 by the All Blacks to clinch an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

The England team said he would remain with the squad until the end of their tour, which concludes following the third Test in Hamilton on Saturday.

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Aaron Cruden

Aaron Cruden

New Zealand rugby has secured a major commitment from one of its key players, with All Blacks and Chiefs flyhalf Aaron Cruden signing on for a further three years.

The 25-year-old Cruden, who played his 31st Test in the All Blacks victory over England on the weekend, has signed with New Zealand Rugby and the Chiefs through until 2017. He has also re-signed with his Manawatu Turbos provincial side for the same period.

Cruden said it was an easy decision for him to make.

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New ZealandThe All Blacks will get another crack at matching the record for consecutive Tier One Test victories when they face England in Hamilton this weekend.

The record of 17 victories has been reached by the All Blacks side of the late 1960′s and Nick Mallett’s Springbok team of the lates 1990′s, and Richie McCaw will have his third shot as captain at joining them on Saturday.

The Wallabies have twice ended an All Blacks winning streak on 16 victories in recent years, springing a surprise in Hong Kong back in 2010 and then earning a draw in Brisbane in 2012.

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South AfricaNew ZealandSouth Africa U20 (10) 32 / 25 (15) New Zealand U 20 (Final Score)

The Junior Springboks and Baby Blacks did battle in the one semi-final of the 2014 Junior World Championship at

QBE Stadium, Albany, Auckland at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 07:35 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

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

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Brett Gosper

Brett Gosper

IRBIRB chief executive Brett Gosper has revealed that while an IRB committee is working on it a global season is unlikely to happen before 2019.

Super Rugby and Rugby Championship organisers SANZAR have requested that the IRB move the current June Test window to July in order to allow their Super Rugby tournament to run without a break for internationals.

July does not currenly fit in with the European season as the climax of the Northern Hemisphere tournaments take place in May and the June Internationals follow on.

Moving the mid-year internationals to July would therefore not work for Northern Hemisphere teams as the players would not get sufficient rest and the season would have a “dead” month in June.

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EnglandWhen Martin Johnson’s England side beat the All Blacks in Wellington in 2003, it was a massive step on their way to becoming world champions later that year.

The timescale is a bit different this time – the World Cup is still 16 months away – but England must be thinking they can put a real marker down once again in New Zealand.

They could, and maybe should, have beaten the world champions in the first Test last week.

And now, with a team strengthened by the arrival of half-a-team’s worth of first-choice players, they will have real belief they can level the series at 1-1 in Dunedin on Saturday.

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Simon Hickey injured

Simon Hickey injured

New Zealand’s Under 20 side has been dealt a blow with captain Simon Hickey out for the remainder of the Junior World Championship.

The play-maker has been instrumental for the Under 20 host nation along side his Blues Super Rugby team-mate, Tevita Li.

Hickey came off in the second half of New Zealand’s final pool match against Scotland on Tuesday with an ankle pain.

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EnglandEngland coach Stuart Lancaster has made five changes to his team’s starting line-up for the second Test against New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday.

Lancaster called in some backline reinforcements for the must-win encounter at the indoor stadium.

With his entire squad now available, Lancaster selected the backline combination that England used in the Six Nations over the supposedly “second string” line-up that pushed the All Blacks close in a 15-20 defeat in the first Test last week.

He recalled centres Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell, pivot Owen Farrell and scrumhalf Danny Care, as well as naming Tom Wood at blindside flank in place of James Haskell.

Manusamoa Tuilagi switches from the centre to right wing, with Marland Yarde moving to the left wing to accommodate him.

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Julian Savea

Julian Savea

New ZealandWing Julian Savea returns to the New Zealand side for Saturday’s second test against England in Dunedin after fullback Israel Dagg was ruled out through injury.

Savea, who has scored 19 tries in 20 matches for the world champion All Blacks, missed the 20-15 first test victory with a knee complaint, but should add extra firepower to the backline after a sluggish performance in Auckland.

Ben Smith moves to fullback from the wing in Dagg’s absence.

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