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Gareth Anscombe

Gareth Anscombe

Outgoing Chiefs and Auckland utility back Gareth Anscombe said that he decided to switch his allegiance from New Zealand to Wales after realising he had little hope of making the All Blacks.

Anscombe, 23, who has signed to play for the Cardiff Blues, said he spoke with All Black coach Steve Hansen earlier this year and found he was well down the pecking order in his favoured position of flyhalf.

“There was a lot of factors, but I mean, there’s a lot of classy No 10′s that are floating around in New Zealand right now and they’re all pretty young as well,” he said.

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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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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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New Zealand Conference
For those who might have watched the episode of Boots & All on Thursday 17 July, you might have heard John Mitchell refer to an article he read surrounding the New Zealand teams and conference.

Rugby-Talk exclusively brings you the article in question, and we must agree with John, it does make for some interesting reading.

Just how level are the current playing fields in Super Rugby, if all sides don’t face the same opposition, and what are the possible consequences thereof on the final standings?

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Liam Messam

Go-to man, Liam Messam

Coming out of the international break, the Brumbies were three points adrift of the Waratahs and strong contenders for the Australian conference crown.

Then the two teams met in Sydney… and the home side absolutely spanked their neighbours. It was 39-8, and probably not even that close.

We know what happened next – the Waratahs went on to clinch top spot while the Brumbies bounced back with a big win over the Force to set a playoff date with the Chiefs.

If the Kiwi wildcards wish to beat their Australian equivalent in Canberra tomorrow night and advance to the Super Rugby semifinals, the champs would be wise to steal a page from the Waratahs’ gameplan, as Dave Rennie explained.

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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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Gareth Anscombe

Chiefs playmaker Gareth Anscombe is rumoured to join Cardiff Blues

Chiefs playmaker Gareth Anscombe is poised to leave New Zealand to take up a contract in Wales with the Cardiff Blues.

Rumours that the 23-year-old would move to Wales, for whom he qualifies through his Cardiff-born mother, have been circulating since April.

The move now looks certain following reports that he had thanked colleagues and supporters at a Chiefs dinner in Hamilton ahead of his departure. Anscombe, who can play both fly-half and full-back, is expected to join the Pro12 side – where he will link up with former Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett – as soon as he has completed his commitments with the Chiefs, who play the Brumbies in Saturday’s Super Rugby play-off in Canberra.

The son of ex-Ulster boss Mark Anscombe, the player has already met with Wales’ Kiwi coach Warren Gatland and reports in the Welsh press suggest he could be fast-tracked into the national setup in time for the November Tests. Although he has signed with Auckland for the NPC, Anscombe is understood to have an out-clause allowing him to go to Wales.

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BrumbiesChiefsThe Brumbies are determined to avoid getting into a ‘brutal arm-wrestle’ with the two-time defending champion Chiefs.

The two sides meet in Canberra on Saturday in the first match of the 2014 Super Rugby play-offs, a preliminary qualifier.

Having found some late-season form – with victories over the Blues (11-8 this past weekend) and Hurricanes (24-16 the week before) – the Chiefs muscled their way from ninth to fifth on the table in the past fortnight.

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Steve Walsh

Steve Walsh

Sanzar has announced that South Africa’s Craig Joubert and Steve Walsh from Australia will referee the two Vodacom Super Rugby Qualifiers this weekend.

Joubert will be the man in the middle in Canberra, where the Brumbies host the Chiefs, while Walsh will be in action in Durban in the second Qualifier between the Cell C Sharks and the Highlanders.

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imageThe Brumbies will have a chance to avenge their defeat in the Super Rugby Final last year when they face defending champions Chiefs next week.

Under the stewardship of current Sharks coach Jake White, the Brumbies went down in Hamilton to fall short of claiming their third Super Rugby title last year.

Now under the guidance of former Wallabies flyhalf and Brumbies legend Stephen Larkham, the Canberra side comes into the match with a fair maount of confidence given their convincing win over the Force in the last round.

Ben Mowen will become the Brumbies’ most-capped skipper in what might also be his final game for the franchise given that he is heading to France to play for Montpellier.

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Special EditionSuper RugbyLike every fine season of Super Rugby, all is not revealed until the final weekend of the regular season, and the 2014 campaign, and 19th tournament overall of the Southern Hemisphere’s premier provincial competition, will be no different.

However congratulations must be offered to the Waratahs, who offered one piece of clarity over the weekend with their 44-16 win over the Highlanders.

With that, the Waratahs has for the first time qualified as the top-ranked team after the regular season, and become the ninth franchise in history to finish as ‘minor premiers’.

For coach Michael Cheika and his troops, this will be a significant fact even though he was quick to remind all who would listen that the Super Rugby Finals Series would be another step up for a team that looks the goods.

However, as Cheika correctly pointed out, there will be teams with more experience at this stage of the season and this is a crucial factor for potential champions.

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Bundee Aki

Bundee Aki

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made only one change to his starting line-up for Friday’s Super Rugby crunch encounter with the Blues in Auckland.

The change is injury enforced – with Bundee Aki starting at inside centre in place of Charlie Ngatai, who left the field late in the 24-16 win over the Hurricanes last week.

He has failed to recover from the shoulder injury that forced him off the field.

There are two changes to the replacement bench.

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Ben Tameifuna

Ben Tameifuna

The Chiefs have confirmed that Ben Tameifuna has put pen to paper on a one-year contract extension to keep him at the dual Super Rugby champions.

The strong scrummager and crowd favourite said his decision to stay was simple.

“I am a Chief by choice.”

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Special EditionSuper RugbyThe Cell C Sharks will be the only South African team contesting the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs this year after the Vodacom Bulls slipped up in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon, shortly before the KwaZulu-Natalians’ title hopes were dealt a blow in Bloemfontein.

The team from Durban dropped one position to third on the overall standings after their shock defeat by 27-20 to the Toyota Cheetahs at the Free State Stadium. It was arguably the team from Bloemfontein’s best performance of the season as they moved up from the last spot on the log to 14th.

Earlier on Saturday afternoon, the DHL Stormers recorded the fourth-ever clean sheet in a local derby when they beat the Vodacom Bulls by 16-0 at DHL Newlands. Just before the June-break, the Capetonians did the same when they beat the Toyota Cheetahs by 33-0 in Cape Town.

It will be only the third time in the last 10 years that the Vodacom Bulls will not feature in the playoffs.

The other two times a South African side failed to score any points in local derbies, were in 1999 when the Cell C Sharks beat the Vodacom Bulls by 29-0, while the team from Pretoria beat the Southern Kings by 34-0 last year.

In total, it was the sixth time ever a South African team were kept point-less in Vodacom Super Rugby and the Vodacom Bulls’ third zero. The Pretorians lost 27-0 to the Crusaders in Timaru in 2011 and the DHL Stormers lost 22-0 to the Crusaders in Cape Town in 2008.

On Friday evening, the Lions recorded their sixth win of the season when they beat the Rebels by 34-17 at Ellis Park, meaning 2014 will go down as the most successful for the team based in Johannesburg since the Cats franchise was dissolved before the 2006-season. Their previous best was five wins in 2007.

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ChiefsThe Chiefs have announced their team to play the Hurricanes at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton this Friday.

Friday’s encounter is expected to be the Chiefs last home game for the season and will mark the official farewell for Chiefs players, Tanerau Latimer, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Bundee Aki and Mils Muliaina who are all heading off-shore to continue their careers.

Changes to the side will see Jamie Mackintosh starting at prop, Tawera Kerr-Barlow at scrumhalf and Charlie Ngatai and Tim Nanai-Williams in the midfield.

Asaeli Tikoirotuma and James Lowe start on the wings with Tom Marshall at fullback.

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ChiefsFrom bidding for an unprecedented hat-trick of Super Rugby titles to merely keeping their dwindling playoffs hopes alive, the once-mighty Waikato Chiefs’ decline has been as rapid as it has been puzzling.

Bottom of the New Zealand conference and ninth overall, the Chiefs could see their title defence end in front of home fans in Hamilton on Friday when they take on a ravenous Hurricanes side who humiliated them 45-8 in May.

Having lost four of their last six games, the Chiefs’ struggles have underlined the strength of New Zealand rugby, with all five of the conference’s teams still in contention for the post-season with two rounds to play.

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CrusadersHurricanesHighlandersChiefsBluesThere is just six competition points separating the five New Zealand Conference teams, but with four intense local derbies to come, there is no chance of the Kiwi teams dominating the 2014 Super Rugby Finals Series.

The Crusaders and Highlanders destinies are in their own hands, although in a delicious twist of fate those two meet in the final round so that clash could be for a top six berth.

The Hurricanes, just one point behind, do not have their fate completely in their own hands, one of just two teams with only one fixture remaining.

The Blues and Chiefs need results to go their way if they are to survive.

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  • grootblousmile 28 Jul 2014, 12:12 SAST - Shit, there goes another wicket! SA 110 / 6
  • grootblousmile 28 Jul 2014, 12:11 SAST - 1 @ ahfyvie: Welcome here, ahfyvie! Sent you a mail too! There will always be those who love or hate...
  • BrumbiesBoy 28 Jul 2014, 12:07 SAST - @ BrumbiesBoy: Sorry, should read: "...with their (official) planned quota bullsh*t"
  • BrumbiesBoy 28 Jul 2014, 11:58 SAST - I looked at these pics & shudder to think how the "powers that be" are stuffing everything up with their...
  • grootblousmile 28 Jul 2014, 11:57 SAST - O Kak, Amla gone. SA 105 / 5
  • nortierd 28 Jul 2014, 11:37 SAST - Isn't there some sort of sanction against excessive appealing? These tea farmers sound like Cosato and there ilk, every ball...

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