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Australian Rugby

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Brumbu Jack

Brumby Jack, merely a show pony, says Tah Man

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.

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Rhys Ward

Rhys Ward- 300 matches and counting

“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.

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Henry Speight

FRESH FACE: Brumbies winger Henry Speight is the lone new name in the Wallabies squad for The Rugby Championship next month

AustraliaThe 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.

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Tah Man

Tah Man will have the Allianz Stadium sidelines to himself

The Waratahs – Brumbies Super Rugby Semi-Final showdown has been robbed of one of its marquee match-ups, with reports that Brumby Jack has been “banned” from Saturday night’s encounter.

The iconic Brumbies mascot has, according to the Canberra Times, been denied a request to strut his stuff on the field and will instead have to be content with a seat alongside Brumbies supporters in the Allianz Stadium stands.

 

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The Samsung SlideLiner

The Samsung SlideLiner

Ever wondered what it would be like to cross rugby spectating with Gold Reef City? No? Well neither has anyone else, until Samsung Australia came up with an innovative an novel new way of watching rugby.

Samsung Electronics Australia will launch the SlideLiner, an exciting Samsung innovation to give Australian Rugby fans a money-can’t-buy seat between the grandstand and the pitch during three matches of the 2014 Rugby Championship.

The Samsung SlideLiner is a comfortable, four person ‘couch’ that will sit on tracks beside the pitch, following the action along the field of play as the Qantas Wallabies take on the All Blacks and Springboks in The Castrol Edge Rugby Championship 2014.

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Jacques Potgieter

Jacques Potgieter during training ahead of the semi final against the Brumbies

Jacques Potgieter will start at lock for the Waratahs in this weekend’s Super Rugby semi-final against the Brumbies but coach Michael Cheika thinks Will Skelton could be a matchwinner from the bench.

Hard-running former Springbok Potgieter has got the nod alongside Kane Douglas in the second row for Saturday’s match at Sydney Football Stadium, which will decide who faces the Canterbury Crusaders or South Africa’s Sharks in the final.

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Laurie Fisher

Laurie Fisher will move to the Aviva Premiership to coach Gloucester this season

For all the talk of players leaving Australian shores, the costliest exit may be Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher, who is bound for Gloucester next year. The Brumbies’ lineout, drive, scrum and defence against the relatively new Chiefs tactic of setting up mauls in general play were the difference in an outstanding qualifying final of tiny margins on Saturday. Not only that, but Fisher worked lineout miracles with emergency hooker Ruaidhri Murphy in the few short weeks since he understandably struggled against the Waratahs. Murphy was like Phil Taylor with his arrows when he came on for the closing stages, even hitting Ben Mowen at the tail of one set-piece. Brilliant work

We don’t always get to hear much about our top-level coaches these days, certainly not much beyond the usual ‘this bloke is rubbish’/’this bloke’s a genius’ debate, but often there are stories and insight to be provided that goes well beyond the standard clichés.

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CrusadersCell C SharksThe Waratahs and Crusaders will be heavily favoured to advance to a Sydney final, but the two Vodacom Super Rugby play-off qualifiers played this weekend did breathe some much needed life into a competition that is sometimes accused of being too predictable.

As expected, the home teams did advance to next week’s round of semifinals, but it was a close run thing in both Canberra and Durban. More than that, the quality of rugby produced, and the entertainment value, was just what the doctor would have ordered if the goal of a medical consultation was to find out what could increase interest for the remaining two weeks.

Of the two winning teams, the Brumbies and the Sharks, it is the former who should go into the semifinals feeling most upbeat. They relaxed when they thought they had the game won and the Chiefs showed their championship qualities one last time before eventually conceding their run of success had come to an end by launching a brave, gutsy and classy fightback.

Once condemned to playing catch-up, the Chiefs produced some of their best rugby in a while, and may well have won had they shown just a bit of temperance in their commitment to attack, for it was their tendency to concede penalties in their own half by trying to play too much rugby there that cost them the game.

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Tana Umaga

Tana Umaga

Former All Black and rugby legend Tana Umaga is open to coaching the Singapore Super Rugby franchise if they win the bid to be one of the expansion teams in 2016.

The Counties Manukau coach has been involved with the Asian country for a few years now, he will coach the Asia Pacific Dragons in there in a game against the Maori All Blacks later this year.

Singapore is currently in a battle with Japan to be one of the teams included in Super Rugby when it increases to an 18-team competition in 2016.

Umaga would be a worthy candidate with his ability to lure players through his name and presence, as such he is already being touted as a front-runner to coach the team.

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Jurie Roux

Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU

The South African Rugby Union find themselves at a crossroads in the Super Rugby saga. It is now time that they show some backbone!

In various media statements about the expansion of Super Rugby to Asia, a few important facts were lost in the hype.

Before we get too excited about the new ‘world’ we are going to enter into (the expansion to Asia), we should rather look at the facts.

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Jaco Peyper

Jaco Peyper

SANZAR has appointed the referees for Saturday’s Semi-Finals. Jaco Peyper will referee in Sydney, Glen Jackson in Christchurch.

The Crusaders are the only team that played in the 2013 Semi-Finals.

In 2013 the referees for the Semi-Finals were Steve Walsh for the Chiefs vs Crusaders and Craig Joubert for the Vodacom Bulls vs the Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld.

In 2013 Peyper and Jackson were both involved in the Play-Off’s – Peyper for Crusaders vs Reds and Jackson for the Brumbies vs Toyota Cheetahs.

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Australian National Rugby ChampionshipThe Australian Rugby Union has unveiled the Wallabies player allocations for the inaugural year of Australian’s National Rugby Championship.

In general, Wallabies will be aligned to the NRC team that is affiliated with their Premier Club, with each NRC team entitled to four Test players outside of their 33-man contracted squad.

If an NRC team elects to have more than four Wallabies aligned to their team, extra Test players will be counted as part of their contracted playing squad.

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French Rugby

French rugby is just one bad November away from falling out of the top 10 rankings

After years of selling itself as a global game when it never really was, rugby is poised to take grip in territories it has always dreamed of conquering writes Gregor Paul in the Herold on Sunday.

The All Blacks are scheduled to play in Chicago this year, Samoa in 2015 and probably Singapore in 2016. Super Rugby is also heading to Argentina and probably Singapore.

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight, who was deemed “not good enough” for the Chiefs, is proving all wrong

Brumbies excitement machine Henry Speight didn’t just leave the Chiefs lamenting a qualifying finals loss.

He left their coach Dave Rennie ruing the one “that got away” after his side’s dream of a Super Rugby three-peat came to a crashing end at Canberra Stadium.

And the Chiefs only have themselves to blame.

That’s because Speight not only played for Hamilton Boys High School, but went on to represent the Waikato provincial team – the Chiefs’ feeder club.

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Ben Mowen

Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen in action

BrumbiesACT Brumbies captain Ben Mowen has lauded the club’s courageous Super Rugby finals win against the Waikato Chiefs as the best performance of the past three years.

But Mowen, the most-capped skipper in Brumbies history, insists the ACT side can improve on its epic eight-try win which ended the Chiefs’ two-year reign as Super Rugby champions.

The Brumbies held on for a cliffhanger 32-30 triumph at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night, setting up a likely week-two finals clash against arch rivals the NSW Waratahs next weekend.

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Steve Tew

NZRU boss Steve Tew

A decision on Super Rugby’s Asian expansion could require mediation, with Australia and South Africa expected to butt heads over whether Singapore or Japan gains inclusion.

Earlier this month, Fairfax Media revealed expressions of interest from both, and SANZAR confirmed yesterday that Singapore and Japan submitted the only bids for the 18th team to join an Argentinian side and South Africa’s Southern Kings from 2016.

Now those bids have been lodged with SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters, both will have their respective business cases, broadcast revenue potential and competitiveness assessed before a final decision is reached. Additional teams will need around $10 million per year to cover travel, wages and other expenses.

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Rod Macqueen

For the Brumbies to win, they need to play “Macqueenball”

They say in sports you have to lose a grand final before you win one. That is the prospect, anyway, facing the ACT Brumbies as they go into a successive Super Rugby finals campaign on Saturday night.

The team they play, the Chiefs, defeated them in the 2013 grand final at Hamilton. It took the All Blacks 24 years to understand that finals rugby is an entirely different ball game from pool-round rugby. After the All Blacks lost in the quarter-finals to France in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, the coaching staff did some deep thinking into how to play finals rugby.

What they discovered is that they needed to have total clarity on how to play each specific final. And they had to have contingency plans for coping with unforeseeable events. The best contingency plan is to score enough points before trouble arrives, as it did for the Brumbies in the last 20 minutes of their final against the Chiefs.

Where the Brumbies need clarity in their qualifying final is knowing whether to play “Jakeball” or “Macqueenball”.

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Special EditionSuper RugbyThe 2014 Super Rugby season is slowly drawing to a close and tomorrow sees the two Play-Off matches in the form of a Qualifying Round. Tomorrow’s victorious teams will qualify for the right to play in the Semi-Finals.

The only certainty is that the Crusaders and the Waratahs will be hosting those Semi-Finals, but against whom, and what happens after that?

There are multiple scenarios and permutations that could come into play.

3 Weekends of Super Rugby remain in 2014, this weekend’s Play-Off Round, the Semi-Final Weekend and the Final the week thereafter.

The Final takes place on 2 August 2014.

 

If you are a Sharks fan:

image

Your team qualified 3rd on the Combined Log.

They’re up against the Highlanders in Durban, on Saturday night.

  • If the Sharks win, then they travel to Christchurch to take on the Crusaders in the one Semi-Final.
  • If the Sharks beat the Crusaders and the Waratahs beat the Brumbies, the Sharks travel to Sydney to take on the Waratahs.
  • The Sharks can host the Final if they beat the Crusaders and the Brumbies beat the Waratahs.

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imageMichael Cheika has shrugged off suggestions that Waratahs stars Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale are vulnerable to offers to defect to the NRL (Rugby League) as the Waratahs build towards what looks to be a sold-out Semi-Final in Sydney next weekend.

After a week in which the minor premiers’ biggest names were linked to moves to Rugby League, the Waratahs confirmed late on Thursday that more than half of the 43,500 seats at Allianz Stadium had been sold just a day after tickets went on general sale.

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SuperBruBefore making those all important SuperBru picks for the Super Rugby qualifying matches, let’s have a look at some predictions, thoughts and statistics from the sides taking the field this Saturday.

Blue Bird aka Carol is still leading the Rugby-Talk Super Rugby 2014 SuperBru log on a stellar 106.50 points.

Sharks_Lover has gained ground on her after his yellow cap winning Round 19 and is sitting in second spot on 106.20. Winston Champ dropped one place to 3rd on 104.50 points.

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Jacques Potgieter

Jacques Potgieter – enjoying the Sydney experience

I’m sure that everybody who has been following the Waratahs and their progress to ending first on the 2014 Super Rugby log will agree that Jacques Potgieter has played an integral part in their rise.

He has been playing with the same robust “kamikaze” style that first got Heyneke Meyer to lure him to the Bulls, and that gave him his three Springbok caps, but he has refined his game at the same time.

As good as he has been to the Waratahs, the Waratahs have been equally good to him. He has evolved as a rugby player and instead of the Bulls forward blueprint of head down and charge, he has been delivering some deft offloads and touches. He is a much more rounded player, and the frightening part is, all within the space of one season.

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Super RugbyIt is the Play-Off Round of Super Rugby 2014 this weekend! We have only the 2 Play-Off games in this Round, as all teams below Log position 6 has now been dispatched and the Top 2 teams have a nice rest weekend, with both games on Saturday.

This is the final crunch to sort the men from the boys, to sort the teams going forward into the Semi-Finals.

The Waratahs and Crusaders sit comfortably at the Top of the table and the Brumbies, Chiefs, Cell C Sharks and Highlanders compete in this Round.

It is winners take all in these Play-Off games, the losers joing the other 9 Teams who have already been dispatched to also-ran’s.

Bonus points for tries and losses within 7 now does not matter anymore, all that is needed is a win.

Let the games continue….

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BrumbiesThe Super Rugby Qualifying Rounds kick off in Canberra on Saturday morning SA time when the ACT Brumbies hosts the current champions, the Chiefs.  The Brumbies ended 4th on the combined Super Rugby log and the Chiefs 5th.

Robbie Coleman returns to the Brumbies starting side on Saturday when his team takes on the Chiefs in their Super Rugby Qualifier at GIO Stadium. Coleman’s elevation to the starting side shifts Clyde Rathbone out of the matchday 23, with rookie prop Allan Alaalatoa’s inclusion on the bench the only other change to last week’s squad.

With seven tries to his name in 2014, Coleman leads the Brumbies try-scoring tally alongside his fellow-back-three member, Jesse Mogg. It’s been a big season for the Brumbies outside backs, with Henry Speight, Joe Tomane, Pat McCabe, Mogg and Coleman combining for a total of 22 five-pointers.

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Jessie Mogg

Jessie Mogg has regained his starting role for the Brumbies after being dropped earlier this season

Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg is using his Super Rugby axing to reignite his passion, admitting he took his position in the team for granted after being the first-choice No.15 for more than two years.

Mogg was benched for the Brumbies’ clash against the Melbourne Rebels in June, with coach Stephen Larkham opting to promote Wallabies warrior Pat McCabe to the starting XV.

But Mogg has regained his fullback jersey after McCabe was injured while on Wallabies duty, and the Wests speedster says being dropped was the wake-up call he needed to help the Brumbies’ charge to the championship.

“It was about me turning things around and working a little bit harder,” he said. “I’ve come back and played solid over the last two weeks, I’ll look to build on that into the finals series.”

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