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Crusaders

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Owen Franks

Owen Franks

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC has accepted a guilty plea from Owen Franks of the Crusaders for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, after he was cited following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Franks has been suspended from all forms of the game for 2 weeks up to and including 8 March 2015.

The incident occurred in the 10th minute of the match between the Highlanders and Crusaders played at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on 21 February 2015.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC assessed the case.

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Willi Heinz

Willi Heinz

Gloucester have added experience and quality to their scrumhalf ranks next season with the capture of Crusaders’ Willi Heinz.

The 28-year-old will join the current Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw and the hugely promising Callum Braley as scrumhalf options for the Cherry and Whites from 2015 – 2016.

Heinz has captained Canterbury in the NPC, represented the Crusaders more than 50 times in Super Rugby, and gained huge popularity with the Canterbury supporters.

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Owen Franks

Owen Franks

Kane Hames

Kane Hames

Crusaders prop Owen Franks and his Highlanders counterpart Kane Hames were both cited for foul play after their teams’ clash in Dunedin on Saturday.

Both players are alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking.

Owens’ incident occurred in the 10th minute of the match while Hames’ incident took place in the 74th minute.

Upon further review of the match footage, the citing commissioner deemed in his opinion the incidents had met the Red Card threshold for foul play.

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Grant Jarrold

Grant Jarrold

Grant Jarrold has been elected the new Chairman of the Crusaders.

Jarrold said he was looking forward to stepping up to the role of Crusaders Chairman and continuing to contribute to the organisation.

“I am passionate about this team and have enjoyed being involved as a Board member since 2012.

“This is a Board, a team and an organisation full of quality, committed people, so it is an honour to assume the role of Chairman for the Crusaders,” Jarrold said.

Jarrold continued: “There are plenty of new opportunities for the Crusaders this season and in the future.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

All Black skipper Richie McCaw on Thursday dropped the strongest hint yet he will retire after this year’s World Cup in England and bring his glittering career to an end.

The 34-year-old captain of New Zealand, the reigning World Cup champions, admitted he was considering hanging up his boots, but was not yet ready to make a definitive announcement, preferring to focus on the ongoing Super Rugby season with the Crusaders.

“Honestly, I haven’t made any final decision, but probably the likelihood is I’m not going to be playing next year,” McCaw said at a Crusaders training session, in comments published on New Zealand Rugby’s official website.

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Israel Dagg

Israel Dagg

Israel Dagg will make his return to Super Rugby when the Crusaders take on the Highlanders this Saturday.

He is 1 of 5 changes to the starting line-up this week.

Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder has named Wyatt Crockett to start in the No 1 jersey this week, with Joe Moody and Nepo Laulala providing prop cover from the bench.

Scott Barrett will start at lock for the first time in Super Rugby, pairing up with Luke Romano and with Dominic Bird on the bench.

Colin Slade shifts from fullback to flyhalf, with Daniel Carter recovering from a knock to the leg in last week’s match, and Dagg steps in at No 15.

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Israel Dagg

Israel Dagg

Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Crusaders pivot Dan Carter is set to miss the Christchurch-based team’s clash against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday.

Carter hurt his leg in his side’s 20 / 10 loss to the Melbourne Rebels last weekend and although Crusaders assistant coach Aaron Mauger believes the injury isn’t serious, he said it’s unlikely that the All Blacks flyhalf would be considered to play this weekend.

That means that Colin Slade is expected to start in the No 10 jeresey.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Details on Dan Carter’s leg injury are still fuzzy heading towards the Crusaders match against the Highlanders on Saturday.

The official line signalled some improvement when he was assessed by the medical staff and then involved in the squad’s light workout on Monday at their Christchurch headquarters.

During the Crusaders’ opening Super Rugby loss to the Rebels, Carter took a knock to his lower right leg which he then aggravated when he made a hasty clearing kick from his in-goal area.

The limping flyhalf stayed on for a further 15 minutes hoping the discomfort from his “dead leg” would ease. He had to be subbed and when he fronted for interviews later, Carter was optimistic there was no significant issue.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

All Blacks flyhalf Daniel Carter’s final Super Rugby season began with a rocky start as the 32-year-old suffered another leg injury in the Crusaders’ surprise 20 / 10 loss to the Melbourne Rebels on Friday.

Carter, who has also already said he will leave New Zealand rugby after the conclusion of this year’s World Cup to take up a three-year contract with France’s Racing Metro, allayed any early jitters about the All Blacks’ world title defence.

“I got a whack in the side of the leg, similar to a spot that I got it last year. It was just a knee and gave me a bit of a dead leg,” Carter told reporters. “I’m sure it’s nothing serious.”

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CrusadersThe Crusaders will open the 2015 Super Rugby season this Friday night when they host the Melbourne Rebels in Christchurch.

Richie McCaw will start for the Crusaders for the first time in 2015, in one of 3 changes that head coach Todd Blackadder has made to the starting line-up that played a warm-up game against the Reds in Brisbane last week.

The other changes are Joe Moody starting at No 1 and Ben Funnell at hooker.

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Nemani Nadolo

Nemani Nadolo

Crusaders winger Nemani Nadolo could be back in Super Rugby sooner than expected but he is unlikely to play in the Super Rugby opener against the Rebels in Christchurch on Friday.

Nadolo has completed his commitments with the NEC Green Rockets after they suffered a shock loss to Teikyo University in their All-Japan Championship knockout so he is free to return to the Crusaders.

The Fijian winger was joint top try scorer in 2014 – on 12 tries with the Waratahs’ Israel Folau – but despite his value he is unlikely to be rushed into action this week at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium.

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RedsThe Reds have named their team to play the Crusaders at Ballymore in what will be their final Super Rugby pre-season clash.

As revealed yesterday Reds recent recruit Karmichael Hunt will start at flyhalf in the match as the Queensland side look at ways of filling the gap created by Quade Cooper’s injury.

Reds head coach Richard Graham has announced a 23-man squad for the fixture, with a further three players to be added. In all Graham has made three changes to the starting team from last week’s match.

Hunt’s move to starting flyhalf has shifted 20-year-old Duncan Paia’aua to the reserves bench, Chris Feauai-Sautia has been brought into a starting wing spot and Jamie-Jerry Taulagi has moved to starting fullback.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Dan Carter will start the Crusaders’ last warm-up match ahead of potentially his final Super Rugby season against the Reds on Friday at flyhalf with team-mate Colin Slade switching to fullback.

The 32-year-old Carter, who will join French side Racing Metro at the conclusion of this year’s World Cup, had played mostly at inside centre last year when he returned to the Crusaders from a sabbatical to accommodate Slade’s good form.

The fact he will play in his preferred flyhalf position suggests he will get the nod from coach Todd Blackadder to start there for the Crusaders’ opening game against the Melbourne Rebels on 13 February in Christchurch.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Dan Carter has dismissed concerns about a calf strain and told the Crusaders coaches he wants to play the Super Rugby pre-season match against the Hurricanes in Eketahuna on Saturday.

Following the frustrations of last year, when he suffered a small fracture in his lower leg in the Super Rugby Final against the Waratahs and failed to reclaim his All Blacks flyhalf spot on the November tour of Chicago and Britain, Carter is eager to quickly get things going in World Cup year.

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Billy Guyton

Billy Guyton

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder will have to put his faith in some young and inexperienced scrumhalves for the start of the Super Rugby season with Andy Ellis involved in Japan and Willi Heinz out with a broken leg.

A season-ending leg injury to Willi Heinz has propelled former Hurricane Billy Guyton into the Super Rugby spotlight for the Canterbury team.

There was a collective groan around Timaru’s Alpine Energy Stadium as Heinz broke his left fibula attempting a tackle in the second quarter of the Crusaders pre-season hitout against the Highlanders on Saturday.

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Willi Heinz

Willi Heinz

The Crusaders appear set to be without Willi Heinz for the Super Rugby season after the scrumhalf fractured his leg in a trial against the Highlanders on Saturday.

Last year’s beaten finallists fell 29-26 in Timaru, however the scoreboard will be of little concern to Todd Blackadder’s troops, whose depth will to be tested ahead of their season-opening clash against the Rebels on 14 February.

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Sean Maitland

Sean Maitland

Scotland international Sean Maitland will join London Irish next season.

Maitland, who signed for the Warriors in October 2012, has made 38 appearances for the club and has scored 11 tries during his spell in Glasgow.

The 26-year-old winger has 15 caps and 2 tries for Scotland.

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said: “Sean has played a big role at the club over the last 3 years and we wish him all the best when he leaves at the end of the season.

“There is still a lot of rugby to be played between now and then and I’m sure he’ll want to leave the club on a high in the summer.”

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CrusadersNew Crusaders captain Matt Todd will lead a very inexperienced team south to Timaru to take on the Highlanders in the first pre-season outing on Saturday.

The team to play in this port city in the southern Canterbury region of New Zealand is made up of current squad members, wider training group members and some players who have been involved in the pre-season as part of the Crusaders apprenticeship system.

The game will be played in 4 quarters with rolling substitutions.

None of the Crusaders’ frontline All Blacks – Dan Carter, Wyatt Crockett, Israel Dagg, Owen Franks, Ben Franks, Richie McCaw, Luke Romano, Colin Slade or Kieran Read – will feature in the match.

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Matt Todd

Matt Todd

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has named Matt Todd as the captain for the opening Rounds of the Super Rugby competition.

Todd has been preferred over more illustrious teammates, in the absence of All Blacks Kieran Read and Whitelock, for the opening 3 fixtures – against the Rebels, Highlanders and Chiefs.

Regular skipper Read is taking a mini-sabbatical and while Richie McCaw and Dan Carter are also captaincy candidates, they looks set to miss the opening week as well.

In the national pecking order Todd sits 3rd behind McCaw and Sam Cane, but this endorsement recognises the esteem in which he is held, particularly by Crusaders’ teammates and management.

“Matt Todd is going to captain the team in Kieran Read’s absence,” Blackadder said.

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Super RugbyWith Super Rugby fast approaching it is important to have a look at what each of the teams are doing in their preparations and who they have at their disposal.

As the teams prepare for this brusing competition there is the oppourtunity to test out combanations as well as see how the new boys go.

The Sharks will travel to French champions Toloun to test out their game plan against the Galacticos of rugby while the Bulls will take on the Cheetahs in a traditional pre-season match in Polokwane.

The Australasian sides will also warm up against each other with the Highlanders setting up a comprehensive pre-season schedule due to the first round bye.

The ‘transfer market’ has made the upcoming Super Rugby season an exciting prospect with some big names in James O’Connor and Nick Cummins returning to Australia.

Menawhile, the Bulls have bolstered their squad with some excellent former Cheetahs players.

Finally, and unsurprizingly, Ma’a Nonu has made another move – this time back to the Hurricanes.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Daniel Carter, world rugby’s leading points scorer and one of the greatest players to ever don the All Blacks jersey, is to leave New Zealand rugby at the end of the 2015 season.

The All Blacks and Crusaders flyhalf has announced he has signed a three-year deal with French Top 14 club Racing Metro. It will be Carter’s second stint in France after he played five games for Perpignan in 2008-09 during his sabbatical from New Zealand rugby.

32-year-old Carter said it was exciting to confirm his future post 2015.

“It’s going to be an awesome adventure for me and my family. Having visited France many times, including my time with Perpignan, I know what the French culture and their rugby culture is like and it’s something I really love.

“Having said that, it’s the immediate future that is exciting me at the moment. 2015 is going to be a big year and I’m looking forward to getting into it, firstly with the Crusaders and then hopefully with the All Blacks.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

French club Racing Metro are reportedly winning the race to sign All Blacks star Dan Carter in a deal that is tipped to make him the highest paid player in the game with a £1 million contract.

European media is awash with speculation around Carter as the veteran No 10’s future beyond next year’s World Cup continues to grab headlines.

All the various sources were tipping glamour Paris outfit Racing Metro to lure Carter back to the French competition after his painful previous experience of an injury-plagued sabbatical in 2009 with Perpignan.

The Times suggested Carter ‘is close to becoming rugby’s first £1 million man’ with Racing Metro owner Jacky Lorenzetti prepared to ‘break the bank’ for a move that would finally end Carter’s All Blacks career.

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Natalie Thain

Natalie Thain

Natalie Thain, a New Zealand business woman and former Zimbabwean swimmer, has taken over as the new board director at the Crusaders.

Crusaders Chairman Murray Ellis has stepped down from the Crusaders Board and is retiring after fifteen years on the board and seven as Chairman.

He said he continued to be passionate about the Crusaders and it was not easy stepping aside from something that had been such a big part of his life for many years.

“It has been an honour to serve on this board and as the Crusaders Chair. We have faced significant change in the time that I have been involved, and I am proud of the contribution I have been able to make in helping to steer the Crusaders through those challenges.

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Matt Todd

Matt Todd

Matt Todd was the big winner for the Crusaders and Caterbury at their annual awards evening, the flank coming away two prizes including the big one.

Canterbury Rugby and Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach expressed his congratulations to all of the awards recipients and said the evening had been a great celebration of success.

“This is the chance for our players, coaches, staff, sponsors and volunteers, to come together and enjoy an evening of celebration and reflection on the year.

“As is usually the case in sport, there were highs and lows throughout the year, but overall we have finished this year in good heart and with much to be proud of.

“There are a huge number of people who contribute to the success of rugby in this region, and while we couldn’t possibly thank them all individually, this awards evening is a way of us saying a collective thanks to all of those involved as well as acknowledging some outstanding individual achievements.”

The awards evening also marked a significant milestone for Todd Blackadder – 100 games as Crusaders head coach.

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CrusadersThe Pacific Islands may yet get a taste of Super Rugby, with the Crusaders considering shifting their home match against the Hurricanes to Fiji next year.

The Fiji Village website reported that planning was underway for the seven-time Super Rugby champions to play the Hurricanes in Suva after a sponsor came forward to underwrite the move.

A Crusaders spokesman could not confirm the switch Thursday, saying there were a number of options under consideration with their usual second-choice home venues of Nelson and Timaru also in the mix.

“It’s too soon to comment on what may go ahead,” she said.

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Aaro Mauger

Aaro Mauger

Crusaders Assistant Coach, Aaron Mauger, has accepted the Head Coach role with his old Leicester Tigers club from the 2015 / 2016 season.

Mauger, who will complete his third Super Rugby season as Assistant Coach with the Crusaders in 2015, played 53 games for the Leicester Tigers between 2007 and 2010 and captained the side for much of the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

He says it is a dream opportunity to return to a club that he is so fond of, in a head coach capacity.

“I have awesome memories of my time at Leicester as a player and it is a place I will very happily return to.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have the chance to do that as the head coach for the club and the timing is right for me to grab that opportunity.

“My aim is to help create the framework for Leicester to once again be amongst the top clubs in European and world rugby.

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Super RugbyIn preparation for Super Rugby in 2015, all 5 New Zealand Super Rugby franchises have named their squads for the tournament.

In the meantime, South African franchises will ponder about their squads and in December we at Rugby-Talk.com will speculate what the South African franchises will look like, as final squads will only be known in January 2015.

The same happens every year, New Zealand and Australia get their ducks in a row before the December break, whereas the South Africans seem to focus on December holidays, going to the beach, having Christmas and generally geting fat and lazy.

When can we ever expect the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and the South African Super Rugby franchises to ever catch up to the more professional attitudes displayed primarily by New Zealand… but also closely followed by their Antipodion counterparts, Australia?

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Newlands Rugby Stadium

All Blacks no go area – the picturesque Newlands Rugby Stadium.

Liam Napier explains the mystery of why South African rugby bosses are keeping the All Blacks away from the nation’s second-biggest city.

It’s one of the world’s most popular destinations. In 2008, 25,000 readers of South Africa’s Daily and Sunday Telegraph readers voted it the world’s best city.

But while the All Blacks travel to South Africa at least once every year, 2008 was the last time Cape Town hosted the All Blacks.

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Craig Joubert

Craig Joubert

New Zealand rugby is claiming its second referee apology in a week, with Craig Joubert said to have admitted he was wrong with a ruling that probably cost the Crusaders the Super Rugby crown.

The Waratahs won a tense final three weeks ago in Sydney 33-32, with the winning points coming from a penalty when flank Richie McCaw was penalised for entering a ruck from the side with a minute remaining in the match.

Had the kick missed, the Crusaders would have had possession and would have been unlikely to yield their 32-29 lead with time almost up.

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Brad Thorn

Brad Thorn: Still going strong at 39

Leicester Tigers have confirmed the arrival of World Cup-winning former All Black second row Brad Thorn.

39-year-old New Zealander was referred to by Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill as “one of the great all-time rugby players the world has ever seen.” He is expected at the club at the end of September.

Thorn became the first player to win World Cup, Super Rugby and Heineken Cup titles and arrives from the Highlanders having previously represented the Crusaders and Leinster.

“He is a very driven individual,” Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury.

“He wants to play in the Premiership and he wants to win the Premiership.”

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Nemani Nadolo

Nemani Nadolo

Nemani Nadolo will remain at the Crusaders for two more years, after reports in New Zealand said the giant Fijian winger “never had any intention of going anywhere else”.

“We have loved having Nemani in the Crusaders this season, as have our fans, so it gives me great pleasure to confirm that he will be returning to the team next year and in 2016,” Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said.

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Pictures of Crusaders rugby players on a hunting trip in South Africa are being used by an environmental organisation in its fight against what it calls canned, or joy ride, hunting.

George Whitelock, Tyler Bleyendaal, Sam Whitelock, Tom Taylor and Ben Funnell

George Whitelock, Tyler Bleyendaal, Sam Whitelock, Tom Taylor and Ben Funnell with guides on a hunt in South Africa.

It is reported that the players shown in the four pictures posted by the Landmark Foundation on its Facebook page were Tom Taylor, George and Sam Whitelock, Ben Funnell and Tyler Bleyendaal. In each picture, one or more of the players was posing beside a dead animal. The animals were a zebra, a blesbok, a gemsbok and an eland.

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Todd Blackadder

ONE MORE YEAR: Todd Blackadder talks to the media during this season’s Super Rugby campaign.

Crusaders boss Hamish Riach has endorsed Todd Blackadder and his coaching team for at least another season.

Although Crusaders head coach Blackadder and his assistants Dave Hewett, Tabai Matson and Aaron Mauger have signed with the franchise until the end of the 2016 Super Rugby season, the honouring of such agreements can be subject to confidential conditions related to a team’s performance or whether they make the playoffs.

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