Australian Rugby

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Brisbane CityTen tries and no penalty kicks – the opening match of the new National Rugby Championship on Thursday night was just what ARU officials had hoped for.

Brisbane City kicked off the Australian provincial tournament with an emphatic 45-20 win over the Sydney Stars at a wet Ballymore.

Despite missing Will Genia, Quade Cooper and Liam Gill, Brisbane dominated the second half as promising centre Samu Kerevi crossed for two tries and 21-year-old Queensland Reds halfback Nick Frisby controlled the game.

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Jaco Peyper

Referee Jaco Peyper gives a yellow card to Beauden Barrett of the All Blacks during the Bledisloe Cup opener

The performance of Romain Poite in this weekend’s Bledisloe Cup re-match will be under more scrutiny than ever after provocative comments from the All Blacks and Poite’s contemporary Jonathan Kaplan this week.

Kaplan, who refereed 68 Test matches, including seven Bledisloe Cup battles to become the most experienced international referee before his retirement last year, opened the batting with a defence of Jaco Peyper, who has come under fire for his officiating of the Wallabies’ 12-12 draw in Sydney last week.

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Nick Cummins

Nick Cummins in action for the West Red Sparks and enjoying the confines of the team bus.

The eyes of Australian rugby fans will be trained on Eden Park this weekend as the Wallabies look to make history against the All Blacks.

But half a world away, the most popular player in the code will be performing away from the public glare in a relatively low-key affair at the Umakana Yokana Stadium.

Nick Cummins and his Coca Cola West Red Sparks play their season opener against Schalk Burger’s Suntory Sungoliath on Saturday.

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New ZealandKiwi straight-shooter Steve Hansen says the All Blacks can lift 10 or 12 notches from their Bledisloe-opening draw but doubts whether the Wallabies can rise any further.

Hansen has reacted to the 12-12 Sydney stalemate like a loss and admitted widespread criticism of his team’s poor display was wholly warranted.

He said New Zealand needed to improve “just about everything” to continue their amazing 32-Test Eden Park streak on Saturday night.

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Steve Hansen

All Black coach Steve Hansen.

It was no consolation at all to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen that a post-game meeting with last week’s referee Jaco Peyper yielded a frank “mea culpa” from the South African whistle-blower.

Hansen factored a poor refereeing performance into the contributing reasons for a sub-par All Black performance in last week’s 12-12 draw with the Wallabies in Sydney to open the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup series.

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Phil Kearns and David Campese

A youthful Phil Kearns and David Campese showing off the World Cup in 1991.

According to those Wallabies who have played there, nothing is particularly forbidding about the graveyard of Eden Park. It’s not the sound of a hostile crowd, or the reverberation of the grandstand above the visitors’ dressing room.

The spookiest part for those in gold jumpers is the number: how many years it has been since Australia last beat the All Blacks at the famous Auckland ground.

Twenty-eight years… Boo!

Alan Jones coached the Wallabies in 1986, and he knew in the opening 20 minutes of the third and deciding Test of the series that his Wallabies were about to carve out their own slice of Bledisloe Cup history.

“I knew they would throw the kitchen sink at us,” Jones recalls. “I picked up that vibe by my contacts around the pubs and so on.”

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New ZealandFrom the fringe to centre stage, Ryan Crotty will start his first test for the All Blacks in Saturday’s rematch with the Wallabies at Eden Park.

After seven cameos from the bench in the past 12 months, which included scoring the match-winning try against Ireland to seal last year’s prefect season, Crotty now gets the chance to push his case in a big occasion.

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Tony Johnson

Tony Johnson

I’m not sure I can remember a game from South Africa in which it rained so heavily. We get a fair bit of that in New Zealand, but Pretoria? Is this global warming in action?

And Sydney turned on a bit of a shocker for the first Bledisloe Cup test, contributing to an error-ridden, penalty infested stalemate.

The Springboks will be happy to get out of a tricky game with a win, and they’re the only team to have one of those right now!

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Ewen McKenzie

Ewen McKenzie

Ewen McKenzie has stuck solid with his Wallaby side from the opening Bledisloe Cup clash to prevent dual droughts continuing in Auckland; a twelfth year without the prized trophy, and a 29th without victory at Eden Park.

But aside from on-field personnel, the Wallabies coach has continued to tinker with many of the team’s preparation and behavioural habits to snap both hoodoos against the All Blacks.

Though individually small, the changes are designed to add up to the Wallabies psychologically breaking the shackles of a long-run of defeat against New Zealand.

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Romain Poite

Romain Poite, the most influential Frenchman since Inspector Clouseau

IF Wallabies fans were dismayed by the whistle-happy performance of referee Jaco Peyper last weekend, they will be equally alarmed to hear that Frenchman Romain Poite is in charge of Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup return bout in Auckland.

Poite controlled last year’s big third Test defeat to the British & Irish Lions in a game in which the Wallabies front row was hammered by the referee.

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AustraliaWallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has named an unchanged line-up for Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup encounter, convinced the team that drew 12-all in the series opener in Sydney can topple the All Blacks at their Eden Park fortress.

McKenzie resisted calls to reinstate Bernard Foley at five-eighth to retain Kurtley Beale as Australia’s chief playmaker as the Wallabies bid to break their 28-year drought in Auckland.

Beale had an influential game in the first Test, kicking all of Australia’s points and McKenzie is backing the mercurial match-winner to continue sparking the Wallabies attack in more favourable conditions this weekend.

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The Rugby ChampionshipExtra-Time for Bledisloe Cup matches will not be introduced following the 12-12 draw between the Wallabies and All Blacks last Saturday.

SANZAR believes there is no need to change to laws as they stand, and given the rarity of tied results, they have no doubt there will be a clear winner of The Rugby Championship tournament within which the Bledisloe is contested.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

The New Zealand media is an unforgiving animal, pouncing at the very first sight of a potential weakness.

In the wake of a rare draw, after a 17-Test winning run, the question is now being raised: ‘Is this All Black team on the slide?’

NZ Herald columnist Chris Rattue suggested the All Blacks appeared to have peaked and are now sliding towards rugby mortality – where the rest of the world resides.

“Are these All Blacks any longer the indomitable force that we like to portray them as?,” Rattue suggested.

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IRBThere has been no change in the Top 12 of the IRB world rankings following the opening round of The Rugby Championship.

Despite seeing their 17-Test win streak end in Sydney thanks to a 12-12 draw with the Wallabies, New Zealand continue to lead the way on 93.42 points.

The Wallabies, courageous in their efforts – and perhaps a little unlucky – remain in third position on 87.32.

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New ZealandThe All Blacks were left feeling “hollow” and “gutted” after their record-equalling test win streak came to a limp end on Saturday night at the Olympic stadium.

To that they might have added relieved at escaping with a draw they scarcely deserved.

Truth be told, the All Blacks were fortunate indeed to slip out of Sydney with a 12-12 stalemate that was flattering to them, after being outplayed in the second half by a Wallabies outfit who just weren’t good enough to close out a victory that was theirs for the taking.

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AustraliaIf Michael Hooper could have turned back time, perhaps he would have revised his decision-making in the closing stages of the opening half of last night’s saturated Bledisloe Cup stalemate in Sydney.

Instead, as he reflected on a 12-12 draw that at least ended the All Blacks 17-test winning run, the Wallabies captain and influential openside flanker had to concede: “We’re in the same position as we were two hours ago.”

That means the Wallabies must win at Eden Park for the first time since 1986, in seven days time, to maintain any hope of reclaiming the symbol of trans-Tasman rugby supremacy at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium in October.

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SuperBruHello Rugby-Talkers,

We have created 2 brand new SuperBru Pools for the next two big tournaments envolving South African sides.

The ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division starts this Friday, 8 August 2014 and the pool we have created is known as Rugby-Talk Currie Cup 2014.

The Rugby Championship, between the Springboks, All Blacks, Wallabies and Pumas start on 16 August 2014 and the pool we have created is known as Rugby-Talk TRC 2014.

It is always nice and adds spice to rugby-enjoyment when one has a vested right in the results of games. The rivalry between Rugby-Talk.com subscribers makes for great fun and excitement between members of out friendly community, so hurry up and join in the fun!

The 2 Pools have both been upgraded to SuperPools at SuperBru itself, giving us extended features, such as the 2 new SuperBru Widgets on the Righthand Sidebar of Rugby-Talk.com, for easy access to these pools and an abbreviated Leaderboard.

Here are the complete details:

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Israel Folau

Israel Folau breaks his ankle playing for the Broncos in 2009.

Israel Folau believes God broke his ankle in 2009 to teach him a lesson about boozy weekends and random one-night stands with women.

Folau believes God took him out of the NRL to endure two years of toil in the AFL to humble him.

Then, only after Folau had reconnected with God, did He open the door to rugby, in which he now stands as the man to end 12 years of Australian agony by leading the Wallabies to victory over the All Blacks in tonight’s Bledisloe Cup opener.

And if you think Folau is crazy, he doesn’t care.

“I want to advertise who Jesus Christ is, which is the thing that means most to me,” the Wallaby fullback says, patting his heart hard.

“I know it’s got nothing to do with footy, but that’s what drives me every single day.”

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New Zealand haka 1916

New Zealand side perform the haka before taking on South Africa in Richmond, Surrey, reportedly in April 1916. No further details of the match exist, with the All Blacks’ last official Test coming in August 1914.

Rugby Union did not shut down completely with the declaration of war in August 1914.

Australia and New Zealand were, as dominions of the British Empire, included in Britain’s declaration on 4 August, but inevitably the matter was less urgent.

The machinery of military recruitment clicked into action and the Wellington Rugby Union cancelled its programme of second, third and fourth grade matches on the following Saturday to enable players to attend volunteer parades. But war caught both countries in mid-season and with the All Blacks part way through a tour of Australia.

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New ZealandAll Blacks centre Conrad Smith is out of tomorrow’s Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney after returning home for the birth of his first child.

Smith will join wife Lee-Ann in Wellington, with Canterbury midfielder Ryan Crotty called in as cover and likely to start from the bench. Malakai Fekitoa is expected to take Smith’s spot at centre outside Ma’a Nonu.

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Steve Hanson & Richie McCaw

All Black coach Steve Hanson with captain Richie McCaw

Steve Hansen is “dumbfounded” by Ewen McKenzie’s selection of Kurtley Beale at first-five ahead of Bernard Foley for Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney, suggesting the Wallabies coach might have been told to select him because of an apparent interest by rugby league.

The comments by the All Blacks coach came this afternoon ahead of the test at ANZ Stadium where Australian confidence will be high following the Waratahs’ recent Super Rugby triumph at the same venue.

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Women's Rugby World Cup 2014Canada will face former champions England in the final of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 on Sunday at the Stade Jean Bouin after they enjoyed contrasting semi-final victories in the French capital.

England booked their place in a sixth Women’s Rugby World Cup final after an emphatic 40-7 victory over first-time semi-finalists Ireland, the Red Roses finally producing the all-round performance they had been craving.

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New ZealandSteve Hansen has sprung a Bledisloe selection surprise of his own, picking the in-form Ben Smith at fullback and dropping a fully fit Israel Dagg for the first time since he became the first-choice All Blacks No 15 three years ago.

The All Blacks coach has decided to stick with the back three that played the last two tests against England in June, which means there’s no room for Dagg in the squad of 23 to open the Rugby Championship against the Wallabies in Sydney on Saturday night.

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AustraliaWallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has announced a revamped line-up for the opening Investec Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.

McKenzie said the changes were based on three key components – strong individual form since Australia’s successful series clean sweep over France; a reflection of the style of Rugby the Wallabies want to play against the All Blacks; and those forced through injury.

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Saia Fainga'a

Experienced campaigner, Saia Fainga’a.

Australia have been dealt yet another front row injury blow with the news that Tolu Latu has become their third hooker to be sidelined.

Experienced Reds rake Saia Fainga’a has been called into the Wallabies squad as a replacement after Latu broke an arm in a Sydney club game on the weekend.

Ewen McKenzie’s squad has already been deprived of Australia’s two most senior hookers – Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau – ahead of Saturday’s opening Rugby Championship game against New Zealand in Sydney.

However, in Fainga’a they have an excellent replacement. Although the 27-year-old will be third-choice player in his position, he has far more Test caps – 29 – than the combined total of the players ahead of him.

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Darren Lehmann

Darren Lehmann, coach of the Australian Cricket team.

The man who dismantled England’s Ashes dominance believes a similar template of aggression and self-confidence can help the Wallabies’ quest to end the All Blacks’ Bledisloe Cup reign.

Australian cricket coach Darren Lehmann gave his appraisal yesterday ahead of a bromantic dinner between his team and the Wallabies squad in Sydney last night.

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AustraliaProp Paddy Ryan and uncapped winger Tom English have been added to the Wallabies Rugby Championship squad, with hamstring injuries set to rule out Laurie Weeks and Joe Tomane for the first two matches against New Zealand.

Both injuries are considered relatively minor, with Weeks and Tomane each expected to be out for two to three weeks.

However, that would be long enough to rule them out of the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup games against New Zealand in Sydney next Saturday and in Auckland the following weekend.

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Rory Arnold

Brumbies recruit Rory Arnold, the tallest player in Super Rugby.

If you thought NSW Watarahs and Australian Wallabies battering ram Will Skelton was big, meet ACT Brumbies recruit Rory Arnold, the tallest player in Super Rugby.

The 208cm, 130kg lock created huge headlines last year after being involved in an alleged biting incident in South Africa, but Arnold is determined to make a big impact at the Brumbies for the right reasons.

While man mountain Skelton weighs in at 140kg, at 203cm he can’t match Arnold, who is equal in height with former South African player Andries Bekker. They are the tallest players in Super Rugby’s 19-year history.

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Wycliff Palu

Wycliff Palu has revealed some of the different methods Michael Cheika has used to motivate the Waratahs.

Mastercoach Michael Cheika’s multitude of secret motivational techniques to turn the Waratahs from paupers to premiers can now be revealed.

While the story of the golf clubs given to players before the grand final win over the Crusaders last weekend has been well told, it was only one element of Cheika’s unique strategy to build a squad of players used to failure into a champion team.

Long-serving Waratahs backrower Wycliff Palu is one of the best examples of how Cheika’s ideas transformed players. The burly No.8 was forced to walk from Central Station to the Waratahs’ office at Moore Park every day as part of a daily ritual to ensure he didn’t become complacent after a decade at the club.

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The Rugby ChampionshipOne of the great rugby tournaments starts again soon, as the third ever Rugby Championship gets underway next week. The competition has only been around officially since 2012 following the acceptance of Argentina into the Tri-Nations series, that featured three powerhouses of world rugby in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

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Solomoni Rasolea

Solomoni Rasolea

Utility back Solomoni Rasolea has become the latest player to commit to the Western Force by signing a two-year contract extension.

The 23-year-old’s re-signing continues the Force’s retention run that has already seen Nathan Charles, Dane Haylett-Petty, Rory Walton and Chris Alcock re-commit to the Western Australian club in the past 10 days.

Rasolea has been a regular face in the Force’s match 23 over the past two seasons since joining the Force from the Australian Sevens side.

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