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New Zealand

New Zealand will head into next year’s Rugby Championship as title-holders

Australia will play New Zealand twice in a week as part of their preparation for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The draw for the condensed 2015 Rugby Championship sees champions New Zealand host Argentina in Christchurch but travelling to South Africa and Australia.

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WhistleThe International Rugby Board has announced the match official appointments for upcoming November internationals.

Appointments were made by the IRB Match Official Selection Committee at its recent meeting in Dublin and follow a detailed review of recent performances during the June international window, The Rugby Championship and other matches.

South Africa’s Craig Joubert will kick off a busy month of Tests as teams and officials begin the countdown to Rugby World Cup 2015, when he takes charge of the New Zealand v USA fixture at Soldier Field in Chicago on November 1.

Steve Walsh will be the man in the middle for England’s match with the Springboks and Nigel Owens will officiate at Stade de France when Les Bleus take on Australia, as well as refereeing New Zealand’s visit to Twickenham. Wayne Barnes has been appointed to Wales v New Zealand in Cardiff, while Ireland v Australia in Dublin will be refereed by Glen Jackson. Jérôme Garces will be in charge when the Wallabies take on England and will be in Padova on November 22 to referee Italy v South Africa.

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Super RugbyThe race to become the 18th Super Rugby franchise in 2016 took an intriguing twist on Wednesday.

According to media reports Japan and Singapore, the contestants in the two-horse race, are going to put their names in the same hat and share the games.

If the reports, quoting various sources, are to be believed, Japan have stolen the march on rival Singapore – but only because they offered to host matches in Singapore.

This, they believe, will negate concerns from South Africa about additional travel times.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

This weekend saw the finale of The Rugby Championship and we saw two very contrasting games. The All Blacks won the trophy… again. Deservedly.

The Pumas won their first ever fixture in this tournament, a historical moment and one they will never forget… I certainly won’t, but the highlight had to be the bromance in the coaches box after the game where their Latin exuberance, warmth and hot blooded nature got the better of some of them… Put it this way, there was lots of lovin!!

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Greg Growden

Greg Growden

What an absolute shambles. A rudderless and distracted Wallabies outfit got what they deserved by suffering the embarrassment of being Argentina’s first victim in The Rugby Championship.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie’s position is now under serious question after the team suffered one of its most inexplicable losses of recent times at the end of a road tour from hell that publicly exposed the division within the Australian team camp.

Full marks to Argentina for taking advantage of a sidetracked opposition, who made it so much easier for them by being ill-disciplined, disorganised, dispirited and clearly lacking on-field leaders.

In the end, the most entertaining moment of the Australian performance was singer Marcelo Zelada’s mangled version of Advance Australia Fair before kickoff, which included snatches of English, Spanish, gibberish and even a bit of humming.

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AustraliaBernard Foley has refused to blame laser beams for the Wallabies shambolic capitulation to the Pumas on Saturday but conceded it would be helpful if match officials granted kickers a second shot at goal when the potentially harmful practice takes place.

Foley battled green laser beams on his face for the entire match and missed two crucial kicks when Australia trailed Argentina 18-17 towards the end of the Test.

One kick was from 49 metres out – beyond the range of even Foley, the Waratahs’ new ice man after his title-winning kick two months ago – but the second, in the 70th minute, was inside the 22-metre zone and just to the left of the posts.

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ArgentinaAustraliaLos Pumas (8) 21 / 17 (14) Wallabies (Final Score)

The Argentinian Pumas and Australian Wallabies did battle in The Rugby Championship at

Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza at 00:40 Sunday SA Time (22.40 GMT, 19:40 ARG Time, 09:40 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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SuperBruExciting times ahead with only one more weekend of Rugby Championship matches to go.

Dead rubber or not, it’s the Springboks versus the All Blacks, so it will still be a cracker of a match, with Heyneke looking for that elusive first win over the men in black as coach of the Boks.

The Currie Cup is nearing the end of the regular rounds, and it’s only DHL WP and the Golden Lions that can feel certain that they will make the Top 4.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale

A request that Kurtley Beale change his T-shirt escalated into a heated inflight argument that has shrouded the playmaker in controversy, put a staff member’s future in doubt, and now threatens to engulf the Wallabies a day out from a Test match.

Wallabies team business manager Di Patston flew back to Sydney on Tuesday, two days after she and Beale were involved in a heated stoush across the aisle in the business class cabin of South Africa Airways flight 222 from Johannesburg to Sao Paulo on Sunday morning.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale has added to his troubled record of disciplinary problems with the Wallabies.

Kurtley Beale has been axed from the Wallabies line up less than a day after it emerged he was involved in a heated in-flight argument with a staff member.

Beale will miss his first test this year after being overlooked for utility Rob Horne and halfback Nic White, who were the only two backs named on the reserves bench for Australia’s clash with Argentina on Saturday.

Horne was one of the few Wallabies bench players who made an impact in the side’s bitter 28-10 loss to the Springboks in Cape Town on Saturday, while Beale struggled to wrest back the game’s momentum as it swung South Africa’s way mid-way through the second half.

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Brendan Venter

Brendan Venter

On the evidence of the Springboks’ four-try bonus point win over the Wallabies at Newlands, the intent of Heyneke Meyer’s men to keep the ball in hand was clear for all and sundry to see.

However, the final result should not be the only brush used to colour our canvas. For 69 minutes, the fact of the matter is that the Springboks employed a multi-phase approach yet enjoyed limited success and, prior to the arrival of the impact players, were potentially on course to lose the match.

While Schalk Burger and Bakkies Botha offered an immense physical presence in the forward pack, I believe that Patrick Lambie’s game-management ability at flyhalf ultimately made all the difference.

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ArgentinaArgentina have made five changes to their starting line up as they make a last ditch bid to end their three-year Rugby Championship drought.

Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade will take a side to Mendoza missing the 120 Test caps’ worth of experience of veteran back rowers Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Jean Manuel Leguizamon they boasted on the Gold Coast three weeks ago.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

This weekend’s rugby was dominated by The Rugby Championship.

Credit again to the best team in the world, the All Blacks for completing yet another win and dominating the important parts of each match to win the trophy.

The were put under some pressure by the Argentinian scrum early on but still found a pathway to success and their superior conditioning allowed them to come right back at the dominant pack in the second half.

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The Rugby ChampionshipNow that the excitement of the crazy last 10 minutes at Newlands has subsided, maybe it’s time for a reality check for the Springboks and their supporters – regardless of what happens at Ellis Park this coming week, the All Blacks remain top of the southern hemisphere pile and there is still a lot of work to be done before their position will be properly challenged.

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Israel Dagg

FULL GALLOP: All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg finds clear air during their 34-13 win over Argentina to clinch the Rugby Championship for 2014.

Launching pads don’t get much better. With the pressure now off, the All Blacks board a flight to Johannesburg today with strut, swagger and no inhibitions.

Yesterday’s four-try 34-13 win over the Pumas clinched a third successive Rugby Championship title but, more importantly, saw the All Blacks regain their attacking groove.

After two weeks battling New Zealand rain they threw off the shackles in La Plata and now have the freedom to craft a gameplan without worrying about any tournament permutations.

To further enhance their 22-test unbeaten run they will be intent on harnessing that flamboyance for a blockbuster clash of styles rematch with the Springboks.

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SpringboksSPRINGBOKS

Meyer Praises fit, gutsy Boks

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Saturday applauded the fitness and never-say-die attitude of his team in defeating Australia 28-10 in the Rugby Championship at DHL Newlands.

The Springboks scored three tries in the last ten minutes to seal a bonus point victory.

“We played great rugby at times in the first half, but their defence was great. We became a bit frustrated because of that, but in the second half the fitness levels and impact from the bench was massive for us; I told our conditioning coach Basil Carzis as much afterwards,” Meyer said.

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ArgentinaNew ZealandLos Pumas (6) 13 / 34 (20) All Blacks (Final Score)

The Argentinian Pumas and New Zealand All Blacks did battle in The Rugby Championship at

Estadio Único Ciudad de La Plata, Buenos Aires at 00:10 Sunday SA Time (19:10 Saturday ARG Time, 22:10 GMT, 10:10 Sunday NZ Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

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

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Matthew Burke

Matthew Burke

If there was a World Cup without the All Blacks, we would have a great chance of lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy. Unfortunately that isn’t going to happen.

I say this because perhaps we may have been a little harsh in our criticism of the Wallabies in relation to our neighbours across the ditch.

The Wallabies are in a predicament, along with South Africa and Argentina. The three of us contest a competition against a side who right now are clearly the best rugby-playing nation.

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SuperBruLet me start off this week’s SuperBru thread by saying “Thanks for nothing, Sharks!”

Typical of the Cell C Sharks, play like plonkers for most of the Currie Cup, but then turn it on just in time to mess up everyone’s GSP.

After losses to the Steval Pumas and then at home to the GWK Griquas, not many gave them a chance at Loftus. Well done to the Sharks though, but it must be added that the Blue Bulls looked like plonkers on Saturday.

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New ZealandFive starting changes evoke visions of a drastic overhaul and yet there is strength in key areas for the All Blacks this week.

Beauden Barrett’s combination with Malakai Fekitoa attracts most interest in Sunday’s test against the Pumas in La Plata for its rookie status.

There will be nerves about Fekitoa being thrown in the unfamiliar second five-eighth role to fill Ma’a Nonu’s absence, but Barrett and centre Conrad Smith should do enough to guide him through his third test start.

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Tony Johnson

Tony Johnson

The All Blacks had a mantra through the last World Cup, one that has continued to serve them well.

“Expect the unexpected and deal with it” was a change of philosophy after years of striving to leave no stone unturned in the quest for a perfect preparation.

Somewhere along the way they realized that planning to have the best players in the best shape, and the team functioning tickety-boo on the day was unrealistic. It became more about embracing pressure and expectation, and being able to adjust when things inevitably go wrong.

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John McFarland

Springbok defense coach John McFarland.

In the years of the old Tri-Nations competition competed for by South Africa, New Zealand and Australia it was universally agreed that the Springboks were at a disadvantage because of the travel schedule.

That may not have changed now that the premier southern hemisphere competition has morphed into the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

At least that is the view of Bok defence coach John McFarland, who believes that the South Africans have it tough in being the only side in the new competition, which now also includes Argentina, who have to play three consecutive matches away.

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Corne Krige

Corne Krige

Naturally there has been plenty to discuss since New Zealand defeated the Springboks in Wellington and Australia grabbed their second win of the Championship over Los Pumas.

One man though has stolen the headlines since Aaron Cruden’s ill-advised late night drinking session caused him to miss the flight to Buenos Aires.

His two-match suspension is completely the right call in the eye of Krige, who described his actions as “bordering on criminal.”

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Beauden Barrett

Beauden Barrett

After being effectively handed the All Blacks’ No 10 jersey for the next two tests against Argentina and South Africa by Aaron Cruden’s surprising time-keeping lapse, Beauden Barrett’s biggest priority in the short term is his goalkicking.

That part of his game was lacking in his first and only test start at first-five – against the Pumas in Napier recently – when he kicked only one from five shots at goal, a poor return which could have been costly.

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New ZealandMajor adjustments are not a familiar theme with the All Blacks but that’s exactly what the backline confronts in Argentina this week.

Under Steve Hansen, a consistent selection policy has prevailed. Players must earn their respective chances, or wait for injury to open the door.

This week Aaron Cruden’s ill-advised bender and a lack of depth at second five-eighth will force two serious changes to the inside backs.

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Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith

Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith

Conrad Smith has spoken highly of his midfield partnership with Ma’a Nonu after the pair equalled the world record for caps as a midfield combination in New Zealand’s 14-10 win over South Africa earlier this month.

Sadly, the broken arm suffered by Nonu during the first half in Wellington means they will have a long wait before getting the opportunity to improve on the 55-Test landmark shared with Irish centres, Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy.

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Kurtley Beale

The Wallabies have tasted endless defeat at Cape Town since 1992.

As if beating the Springboks and Pumas on their home turf is not onerous enough, it also involves a road trip from hell.

The Wallabies will this week discover the logistics involved in getting to South Africa, Argentina and then back home can send everyone around the twist.

Countless Wallabies can vouch for the fact it is an itinerary fraught with danger. But it is always memorable – and for many past and present Wallabies it ranks among their career highlights. You certainly never forget it.

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SuperBruOnly 4 points separated the All Blacks from the Bokke in Wellington, but, as expected, New Zealand were the victors.

Australia managed a 7 point win against the Pumas so there were no surprises for Round 4 of the Rugby Championship.

There we many positives to be taken out of the game from a South African perspective, the biggest being the form of Handré Pollard playing in his first real big Test.

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Will Skelton

Concerns over Will Skelton’s fitness ensured he will be left behind from Wallabies tour.

Will Skelton is already triple-XL. The challenge is ensuring his supersub role doesn’t lead to another “X” or two, according to Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie.

Concerns about dwindling fitness as a bench specialist, and the linked issue of not being a lineout jumper, were on Wednesday identified as the reasons behind Skelton being left out of the Wallabies’ squad to tour South Africa and Argentina next week.

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Will Genia

Recall: playmaker Will Genia has been named in the touring squad for the Wallabies’ trips to South Africa and Argentina.

Will Genia and Benn Robinson have been called up to the injury-hit Wallabies for their two-week tour of South Africa and Argentina.

With no less than 13 players ruled out through injury, McKenzie has turned to two assured Test performers to boost the Wallabies for two tough Tests on the road.

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Malakai Fekitoa

HARD RUNNING: Malakai Fekitoa brings a quick-stepping style to the All Blacks midfield.

Malakai Fekitoa seems set to start for the All Blacks at second five-eighth in Argentina next week with Ryan Crotty still working his way back to fitness after a facial fracture.

Crotty was expected to recover for the test against the Pumas in La Plata next week, but would instead make his return in the NPC with Canterbury and join the All Blacks for the Rugby Championship finale against the Springboks at Ellis Park on October 4.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

What a difference a week makes…

 

The Rugby Championship:

We saw 2 very good test matches, particularly the All Blacks vs Springboks game, played in the Cake Tin.

It was played at tempo for the duration of the match and was superbly refereed by Jerome Garces. Chalk and cheese between what we saw last week.

He seemed to be able to make his decisions with ease, without pressure, and for the most part they were well timed, and accurate. He added huge value to a compelling test match which was deservedly won by the All Blacks.

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