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All Blacks

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Conrad Smith

Conrad Smith

Injured All Blacks centre Conrad Smith will make his return to the field after recovering from a broken thumb in a rare outing for his provincial side Wellington on Friday.

The 32-year-old injured the thumb during last month’s Test series against England and missed the third match, with rookie Malakai Fekitoa making his first start at centre in the 36-13 victory.

Smith was named in Steve Hansen’s All Blacks squad for the Rugby Championship on Monday, indicating he would be available for the first clash against Australia in Sydney on 16 August.

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Sonny Bill Williams

STAR POWER: Players like Sonny Bill Williams could potentially turn out for the New Zealand Sevens team at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Opinions in New Zealand rugby are divided on the details of how many top tier fifteens players should be made available for a tilt at Olympic sevens and how those players should be transitioned into rugby’s abbreviated game.

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew confirmed today a number of top tier Super Rugby players and All Blacks would prioritise sevens in 2016 in the lead up to the Rio de Janeiro Games.

However, he said there was plenty of debate around exactly how that process would be handled and hinted the failure to win gold in Glasgow would be factored into discussions.

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Olympics 2016New ZealandAustraliaSeveral ex-New Zealand and Australia internationals have confirmed that they will lodge an application to switch allegiances to a Pacific Island nation with whom they hold a passport, with a view to participating at the Rugby World Cup in England next year.

With the inclusion of rugby 7s at the Olympics in 2016, there has been a change in eligibility laws that will see players who have represented one nation now eligible to play for another, if they hold a passport from that country.

If they have not played international rugby in the past 18 months, they will be eligible for their new country in the Sevens World Series or designated Regional Olympic Qualification Tournaments and would thus be able to play for that country in all forms of rugby.

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Eric Anderson

Former All Black Eric Anderson in 2006

Former All Black front-rower Eric Anderson has died.

Prop Anderson, who was 83, played 10 matches for the All Blacks on the tour of Australia and South Africa, scoring two tries against Western Australia.

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New ZealandStar flyhalf Dan Carter has been returned to the All Blacks squad for this season’s Rugby Championships against Australia, South Africa and Argentina at the expense of his Crusaders’ teammate Colin Slade.

Carter, the world’s leading points-scorer in tests with 1,440, missed New Zealand’s June test matches against England while on a seven-months “sabbatical” from rugby during which he toured the world, attending events such as this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.

The 32-year-old returned to the Crusaders squad for its most-recent matches in Super Rugby, including Saturday’s semifinal against the Sharks, but has been playing at inside center to allow Slade to continue at flyhalf.

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Colin Slade

HARD LUCK: Despite keeping Dan Carter out of the Crusaders No 10 jumper, Colin Slade is likely to miss out on the All Blacks squad for the Rugby Championship.

Colin Slade may be keeping Dan Carter out of the No 10 jersey for the grand final-bound Crusaders but he is likely to be the backline casualty when the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship squad is named today.

Slade was called up for the England series to cover first five-eighth and fullback with Aucklander Charles Piutau out injured and Aaron Cruden still in the early stages of his comeback from a broken thumb.

But Slade did not play, with Cruden proving his fitness to start all three tests and Beauden Barrett used in reserve.

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Dan Carter & Richie McCaw & Keven Mealamu

BACK SEAT: Where the All Blacks sit on the team bus is one of the great traditions around the team that continues to survive. Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Keven Mealamu wave to fans from the team bus.

New ZealandIt’s a place that has been central to the All Blacks’ domination of world rugby, a place where tactics have been spawned, standards set and discipline dished out.

It’s the back seat of the team bus, where seats are filled according to seniority, and positions are treasured.

It’s a ritual that has survived the test of time, though there have been tinkerings along the way, especially to accommodate the demands of the professional era.

Respected Hawke’s Bay rugby administrator Dr Tom Johnson, a former All Blacks trialist, has co-authored Legends In Black, interviewing some of the greats of the Kiwi game to try to unravel some of the secrets of the team’s culture and remarkable success.

They didn’t hold back when he confronted them regarding the seating arrangements on the team bus down the years.

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Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith has re-signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union through to 2016

Nine All Blacks have re-signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union, six of which re-committing through to 2016.

All Blacks and Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith, who has played 29 tests since making his debut in 2012, has re-signed with to 2016.

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Charles Piutau

Charles Piutau is set to be recalled to the All Blacks for the Rugby Championship

Dan Carter and Charles Piutau will be named in the All Blacks’Rugby Championship squad on Monday, but their return to fitness has provided the selectors with some tough decisions.

Who to leave out of the 31-player squad in order to include them? The most vulnerable might be two Crusaders who will be playing alongside Carter in the Super Rugby semifinal against the Sharks in Christchurch today – Colin Slade and Ryan Crotty. Both have been consistent performers this year.

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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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