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Australian Rugby

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Super RugbyIt is Round 3 of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are 3 games on Friday 20 February and 4 games on Saturday 21 February.

The Waratahs and defending champions of Australia have a BYE weekend.

Unlike in 2013 and 2014, all countries started Super Rugby on the same weekend a week ago, so we will not have skewed Logs to deal with. A team also does not pick up ANY POINTS during a BYE weekend, which is very refreshing for a change!

Super Rugby has no June break either in an attempt to make it finish early enough to fit in an abridged Rugby Championship before Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off on 18 September 2015.

Round 1 and 2 had some real upsets and some of the teams who were touted as Tournament winners lost badly.

Round 3 promises to deliver more surprizes!

The Friday games are: Highlanders vs Reds in Dunedin, Western Force vs Hurricanes in Perth and the Toyota Cheetahs vs Blues in Bloemfontein. On Saturday it’s the Chiefs vs Crusaders, Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies in Melbourne, Vodacom Bulls vs Cell C Sharks in Pretoria and the Emirates Lions vs DHL Stormers in Johannesburg to finish off Round 3.

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WhistleRound 3 of Super Rugby 2015 sees 3 matches on Friday and 4 matches on Saturday.

The Round starts off with the Highlanders up against the Reds in Dunedin and the Round finishes with the local derby between the high-flying DHL Stormers against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg.

SANZAR has announced the Match Officials for Round 3 of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

  • Chris Pollock was not considered for selection after sustaining a minor injury during his pre-game preparation last Saturday. He will be given another week to return to full fitness.
  • Jaco van Heerden is set to make his Super Rugby debut refereeing the Vodacom Bulls vs Cell C Sharks match. A law graduate and Advocate to the High Court of South Africa, Van Heerden played rugby for his university before later turning his attention to refereeing. The 32-year old handled himself with aplomb in his first Currie Cup match during the 2014 season and it was no surprise that he was awarded a Semi-Final later in the year.
  • Our thoughts and best wishes are extended to Shaun Veldsman and his family after the TMO was assaulted and stabbed in his vehicle following last week’s match between the Stormers and the Blues in Cape Town. We wish him all the very best for a speedy recovery.

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Karmichael Hunt

Karmichael Hunt

Reds utility backline player Karmichael Hunt will not be selected for Friday’s Super Rugby match against the Highlanders as he awaits a court appearance to answer charges of supplying cocaine.

The 28-year-old, a potential Wallaby bolter for the World Cup, was stood down by the Reds last week after it emerged he was 1 of 4 people given notice by Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission to appear in court on 5 March.

Hunt missed the Reds’ win over Western Force over the weekend and will continue to stay on the sidelines pending his hearing, the Reds said in a statement.

“Following extensive consultation with Karmichael over the weekend, we have determined that it continues to be best for Karmichael’s welfare that he is not available for selection this Friday,” he said.

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Super RugbyIt is Round 2 of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are 3 games on Friday 20 February and 4 games on Saturday 21 February.

The Toyota Cheetahs of South Africa have a BYE weekend.

Unlike in 2013 and 2014, all countries started Super Rugby on the same weekend a week ago, so we will not have skewed Logs to deal with. A team also does not pick up ANY POINTS during a BYE weekend, which is very refreshing for a change!

Super Rugby has no June break either in an attempt to make it finish early enough to fit in an abridged Rugby Championship before Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off on 18 September 2015.

Round 1 had some real upsets and some of the teams who were touted as Tournament winners lost badly, as there were no less than 6 away wins from the 7 weekend matches.

Will everything revert back to normal in Round 2 or will there be similar surprizes to offer?

The Friday games are: Chiefs vs Brumbies in New Plymouth, Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs in Melbourne and the Vodacom Bulls vs Hurricanes in Pretoria. On Saturday it’s the Highlanders vs Crusaders in Hamilton, Reds vs Western Force in Brisbane, DHL stormers vs Blues in Cape Town and the Cell C Sharks vs Emirates Lions in Durban to finish off Round 2.

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Cyclone Marcia in Brisbane

Cyclone Marcia in Brisbane

Cyclone Marcia could force only the 2nd abandoned match in Super Rugby history, with the Round 2 clash between the Reds and Western Force in major doubt as heavy wind and torrential rain batters Brisbane.

Should the match be abandoned, the game will be deemed a draw, with both the Reds and Force to collect 2 competition points each.

Officials from SANZAR, the ARU and both teams were locked in deep discussion on Friday, planning possible contingencies if the category 3 storm continues to cause havoc in the city.

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Karmichael Hunt

Karmichael Hunt

The Reds have not determined a course of action for Karmichael Hunt’s cocaine allegations, but they have decided to withdraw him from Saturday’s match against the Force.

The Queensland Rugby Union released a statement on their website regarding the reports of Hunt being arrested for supplying cocaine along with 2 NRL players.

The QRU clarified what they called ‘misinformation’ regarding Hunt’s arrest, as well as the timing of the incident in relation to the players contract with the Union.

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Francois van Wyk

Francois van Wyk

South African Loosehead prop Francois van Wyk will make his first appearance in the starting fifteen when the Western Force takes on the Queensland Reds at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

Van Wyk, who scored the Force’s final try in last weekend’s 25 / 13 win over the Waratahs, has played 3 matches off the bench for the Western Australian club, and will pack down alongside Wallabies Nathan Charles and Tetera Faulkner.

The 24-year-old front rower replaces Pek Cowan, who will be monitored regarding his pending return after scans cleared him of any serious injury having been carried from the field on Sunday.

The other change to the starting 15 sees Zack Holmes promoted to fullback in the absence of Dane Haylett-Petty, who has been ruled out with a foot injury.

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James O'Connor

James O’Connor

Reds head coach Richard Graham has named his side to take on the Western Force at Suncorp Stadium this Saturday, with 4 personnel changes to the side which lost to the Brumbies in the opening Round.

2 Of the changes are to the starting side, with former All Blacks flanker Adam Thomson and Wallabies utility James O’Connor named to make their Reds debut.

Thomson will start at blindside flanker, with Curtis Browning shifting to the bench. O’Connor has been named starting flyhalf, with Karmichael Hunt returning to fullback.

On the bench, former Australian Schoolboys and Under 20 representative Tom Murday replaces Ed O’Donoghue at lock. Murday was part of the Reds Wider Training Squad in 2013 before heading to New Zealand to join ITM Cup side Northland. He was a member of the Blues Extended Player Squad last year before returning home to train with the Reds. Should he take the field this weekend it will be his Super Rugby debut.

The other change to the replacements sees utility Sam Johnson come in for Duncan Paia’aua, who has been ruled out following a head knock in last week’s match. Johnson, a bruising centre for Brisbane club GPS, made his Super Rugby debut for the Reds last season and is a member of the club’s Elite Development Squad.

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Ita Vaea

Ita Vaea

Ita Vaea will complete a remarkable and dramatic comeback from a serious heart condition to start for the Brumbies for the first time since 2012.

Jarrad Butler moves to openside flank this Friday when the Brumbies travel to New Zealand’s north island to face the Chiefs.

A syndesmosis injury to David Pocock forced the change, with Vaea featuring at No 8 and in the starting side for the first time in 2 years.

The last time Vaea started for the Brumbies was under Jake White in 2012 and the Tongan powerhouse hasn’t featured at the back of the scrum since 2011.

Vaea has battled a serious heart condition for more than 2 years, with last week’s 30-minute effort against the Reds his 1st Super Rugby time since coming from the bench to beat the Waratahs in Sydney back in Round 15 of 2012.

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Luke Burgess

Luke Burgess

Tony McGahan, Melbourne Rebels coach, has made 1 forced change to the side that defeated the Crusaders in Round 1, as the Waratahs head to AAMI Park to face the Rebels this Friday.

Scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker has been suspended for 1 week, so Wallaby Luke Burgess moves to the starting lineup and exciting 2nd-year Rebel Ben Meehan is named in the matchday 23 for the first time this year.

Whilst disappointed to lose Stirzaker, McGahan had faith in the ability of both his scrumhalves to cover the loss.

“Nic is an important player for us, but we have quality players within this position,” he said.

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WhistleSANZAR has announced Match Official appointments for Round 2 of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

On Friday we have 3 matches, with the Chiefs hosting the Brumbies, the Melbourne Rebels hosting the Waratahs and the Vodacom Bulls hosting the Hurricanes.

On Saturday we have 4 matches, with the Highlanders kicking off their season after an early BYE weekend against the Crusaders, the Reds against the Western Force and followed by 2 games in South Africa, the one between the DHL Stormers against the Blues and the Cell C Sharks against the Emirates Lions.

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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika has insisted that he will be able to juggle his jobs as Wallabies and Waratahs coach throughout the 2015 Super Rugby season.

The Waratahs went unbeaten at home last year on their way to winning their first Super Rugby title which led to Cheika being appointed as Wallabies coach after Ewen McKenzie stepped down.

Cheika will step down as Waratahs coach at the end of the 2015 Super Rugby season but as they lost their first match since he took on the dual role questions would inevitably follow about whether he would be able to concentrate fully on both roles.

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WaratahsThe Waratahs have named an unchanged starting line-up for their match against the Melbourne Rebels in Melbourne on Friday.

Pat McCutcheon and Peter Betham are added to a list of reserves that will travel south, with coach Michael Cheika naming his bench closer to the game.

Flyhalf Bernard Foley will celebrate his 50th Super Rugby cap this week, while teammates Adam Ashley-Cooper and Stephen Hoiles will notch their 50th Waratahs Super Rugby caps in the same match.

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Scott Higginbotham

Scott Higginbotham

A SANZAR judicial hearing has found Scott Higginbotham of the Rebels not guilty of stamping on Richie Mccaw after he was cited against the Crusaders at the weekend.

No further sanction has been imposed on the player.

The incident occurred in the 50th minute during the match between the Crusaders and Rebels at AMI Stadium in Christchurch last Friday.

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Jamie-Jerry Taulagi

Jamie-Jerry Taulagi

The Reds paid a dear price for their heavy (3 / 47) loss to the Brumbies in a Super Rugby Round 1 match in Canberra at the weekend.

They will be without fullback Jamie-Jerry Taulagi and flyhalf Duncan Paia’aua for this week’s encounter the high-riding Western Force in Brisbane.

Taulagi suffered a Grade 2 MCL strain and will be sidelined for 6 to 8 weeks.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

David Pocock will not be available for selection this Friday after receiving a grade-one syndesmosis to his ankle during Friday’s win over the Reds in Canberra.

Pocock did not train with the main squad on Monday. He said it was now a matter of getting his ankle right for a quick return to the field.

“Obviously it’s a disappointing outcome and not what I wanted, having spent a long time out. But it’s treatable and I know I’m in good hands here with the Brumbies medical team,” Pocock said.

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Pek Cowan

Pek Cowan

Wallabies prop Pek Cowan has been cleared of serious injury after being carried off the pitch in the wake of a scrum collapse in the Super Rugby match between Western Force and the Waratahs on Sunday.

It looked like being a miserable start to the new season for the versatile 10-cap front row forward when he received lengthy treatment on the pitch before being carted off in a neck brace.

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Nic Stirzaker

Nic Stirzaker

The Duty Judicial Officer has accepted an acknowledgement of breach by Nic Stirzaker of the Rebels under Law 10.4 (b) Stamping or trampling. A player must not stamp or trample an opponent.

Stirzaker was cited after a Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Rebels at AMI Stadium, Christchurch on Friday 13 February 2015.

The player has been suspended from all forms of the game for one week up to and including Sunday 22 February 2015.

The Duty Judicial Officer, Nicholas Davidson QC, assessed the case and recorded:

“I took into account that the player admitted stamping which was accepted as reckless to the point of contact.

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James Horwill

James Horwill

The Duty Judicial Officer has determined that no further sanction will be imposed upon James Horwill of the Reds after he was issued a red card during a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Horwill was issued a yellow card on two separate occasions for infringements at the breakdown, and at the maul. These occurred in the 48th and 75th minutes in the match between the Brumbies and the Reds at GIO Stadium in Canberra on 13 February 2015, and he was shown a red card on the second occasion.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson QC assessed the case and recorded the following:

“While no further sanction has been imposed, this is a warning to players and teams that the judiciary regards team warnings as a responsibility for all players to heed.

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Super RugbyIt is Round 1 of Super Rugby 2014 this weekend, at last the season gets underway for us poor, suffering rugby degenerates in the Southern Hemisphere.

There are 3 games on Friday 13 February, 3 games on Saturday 14 February and 1 game on Sunday 15 February.

The Highlanders from New Zealand have an immediate BYE weekend.

Unlike in 2013 and 2014, all countries start Super Rugby in the same weekend, so we will not have skewed Logs to deal with. A team also does not pick up ANY POINTS during a BYE weekend, which is very refreshing for a change!

Super Rugby has no June break either in an attempt to make it finish early enough to fit in an abridged Rugby Championship before Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off on 18 September 2015.

The season starts with a weekend of some great derbies and some great cross conference battles. The first up season game will be between the Crusaders and Melbourne Rebels, followed by the big Aussie derby between the Brumbies and Reds and a humdinger of running rugby between the Emirates Lions and the star-studded Hurricans side. On Saturday it’s the Blues vs Chiefs followed by 2 South African derbies, the first in Durban between the Cell C Sharks and the Toyota Cheetahs, followed by my choice of match of the weekend, the derby clash between the Vodacom Bulls and the DHL Stormers at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. Sunday sees a lone match between the Waratahs and Western Force to finish off Round 1.

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WaratahsMichael Cheika has named his team for Round 1 as the Waratahs get their Super Rugby defence underway against the Force on Sunday.

Taqele Naiyaravoro has been named in the starting line-up for the first time in his career, while Dave Dennis and Matt Carraro will make their returns from injury.

Meanwhile, new addition to the squad, Rugby League convert Sam Lousi, has been named on the bench.

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Western ForceSam Wykes will captain the Western Force when the side opens its Super Rugby campaign – the club’s 10th season – against the Waratahs in Sydney on Sunday.

The 26-year-old will become the ninth player to lead the Force in Super Rugby – a responsibility he takes on in the absence of Matt Hodgson, who will be sidelined until after the Round 8 bye with a hamstring injury.

Wykes, who will team up with Adam Coleman in the second row, will pack down behind the club’s all-Wallaby front row of Pek Cowan, Nathan Charles and Tetera Faulkner, with Cowan in line to equal Nathan Sharpe’s 92 matches for the Force – second only to Hodgson, who has played 113 matches for the club.

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RedsReds head coach Richard Graham has named his side for its opening Round of Super Rugby against the Brumbies in Canberra this Friday.

The match-day squad features Lachie Turner returning from injury to play his first game in 2015 and scrumhalf Will Genia playing his 100th Super Rugby game, after already earning his 100th cap for Queensland in 2014.

7 Players stand to make their Super Rugby debut for Queensland.

On debut in the starting lineup are prop Sam Talakai, lock Marco Kotze and flyhalf Karmichael Hunt, along with prop Sef Faagase, flanker Adam Korczyk, flyhalf Duncan Paia’aua and winger Campbell Magnay on the bench.

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BrumbiesThree Super Rugby debutants have been named in the Brumbies 23-man squad which will take on the Reds on Friday in Canberra.

Rory Arnold (lock), James Dargaville (wing – bench) and Lausii Taliauli (outside backs – bench) have all registered selections. The trio will join three other big names returning from injury, with David Pocock set to captain the side while Club Captain Stephen Moore and Ita Vaea will also feature on the bench.

Pocock and Moore’s high-profile injury lay-offs due to knee reconstructions are over, while Vaea’s 2-year battle with a heart condition has also been put to bed.

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Melbourne RebelsUp to four players could make their Melbourne Rebels debut in Round 1 of the 2015 Super Rugby season, after Tony McGahan named the recruits in his first matchday squad for the season.

Heading to Christchurch to face the Crusaders, McGahan named Wallabies Mike Harris and Dom Shipperley in his starting lineup for their first appearance for the club, while Ben Whittaker and Sefanaia Naivalu have been named as reserves.

Whittaker signed for the club after returning to Melbourne from Biarritz, while Naivalu could make history if the former Box Hill flyer becomes the first ever player to represent the Rebels after being signed from the Dewar Shield, Victoria’s premier club rugby competition.

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BrumbiesCanberra Super Rugby franchise the Brumbies have secured their financial future by signing a six-year deal with integrated resorts company Aquis as the Principal Partner and Naming Rights Sponsor of the Brumbies.

The partnership, which extends until the end of the 2020 season, is effective immediately. Brumbies players will run out for their first game of the 2015 Super Rugby season against the Queensland Reds at GIO Stadium on Friday night with the Aquis logo on the front of their jerseys.

Aquis specialises in the development of entertainment based resorts that concentrate a wide range of tourism-oriented attractions into single, large-scale facilities. The company’s Australian portfolio includes the proposed Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort and the recently acquired Casino Canberra.

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Richard Graham

Richard Graham

Reds coach Richard Graham believes their more ‘free spirited’ approach to the game will suit skilful players like Karmichael Hunt and James O’Connor.

While Graham looks set to start with Hunt at flyhalf in the season-opener against the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday, the Wallaby utility back, O’Connor, is likely to appear at first receiver very often.

Speaking at a media briefing ahead of their trip to the Australia capital, the Reds mentor made no secret of his admiration for two players, as well as the skill sets the code-hopper and disgraced Wallaby can bring to the team.

“I though Karmichael did really well,” Graham said, adding: “I was really pleased with his performance – he was very clear in his communication and decisive and that got us on the front foot.”

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