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EnglandEngland suffered another injury blow on Tuesday when head coach Stuart Lancaster confirmed centre Luther Burrell is unlikely to be fit for the upcoming test against New Zealand after sustaining a hand injury.

Northampton centre Burrell suffered an injury to his right hand during his side’s European Champions Cup victory over the Ospreys last weekend and will see a specialist ahead of New Zealand’s visit to Twickenham on November 8.

“I think it would be tight for New Zealand, if I’m being honest,” Lancaster told a news conference.

“He’s not been in camp this week at all. He’s seeing the specialist and it will probably unfold over the weekend.

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England head coach Stuart Lancaster has added Dave Ewers, Henry Slade and Thomas Waldrom to the squad preparing for the 2014 Autumn Internationals.

The Exeter Chiefs trio come in as injury cover for James Haskell (Wasps), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints) and Billy Vunipola (Saracens).

Burrell is remaining with Saints for specialist assessment on his injured right hand on Monday and Tuesday while Vunipola will undergo the return to play protocol in camp after suffering concussion in Saracens’ game at Munster on Friday.

Haskell is still getting over a viral infection and, with Will Fraser (Saracens) also suffering a concussion, Ewers comes in.

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EnglandSaracens wing Chris Ashton has been dropped from Stuart Lancaster’s England squad for the End Of Year Tours (November Internationals).

Ashton has been replaced in the squad by Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni, one of three uncapped players named in the 33-man squad on Wednesday.

England play against New Zealand ( 8November), South Africa (15 November), Samoa (22 November) and Australia (29 November).

Chris Robshaw will captain the side in the four-game series at Twickenham.

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Manu Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi

England centre Manu Tuilagi will miss the End Of Year Tours (November Internationals) after suffering a groin injury during Leicester Tigers’ first match in the new European Champions Cup, the Premiership club said on Tuesday.

The Samoa-born player hobbled off the field after 15 minutes of the 25-18 win over Ulster on Saturday.

Tuilagi was making only his second start after three weeks out with a groin problem but Leicester said it was not a recurrence of the same injury.

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WhistleThe International Rugby Board has announced the match official appointments for upcoming November internationals.

Appointments were made by the IRB Match Official Selection Committee at its recent meeting in Dublin and follow a detailed review of recent performances during the June international window, The Rugby Championship and other matches.

South Africa’s Craig Joubert will kick off a busy month of Tests as teams and officials begin the countdown to Rugby World Cup 2015, when he takes charge of the New Zealand v USA fixture at Soldier Field in Chicago on November 1.

Steve Walsh will be the man in the middle for England’s match with the Springboks and Nigel Owens will officiate at Stade de France when Les Bleus take on Australia, as well as refereeing New Zealand’s visit to Twickenham. Wayne Barnes has been appointed to Wales v New Zealand in Cardiff, while Ireland v Australia in Dublin will be refereed by Glen Jackson. Jérôme Garces will be in charge when the Wallabies take on England and will be in Padova on November 22 to referee Italy v South Africa.

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Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster will be England Head Coach until 2020 after the Rugby Football Union decided to extend his contract.

Appointed permanent head coach in March 2012, his tenure in charge of the England team is now set to include the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Lancaster’s coaching team – Forwards Coach Graham Rowntree, Backs Coach Andy Farrell and Attacking Skills Coach Mike Catt – have also been contracted to the end of the 2019-20 season.

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Chris Robshaw

Chris Robshaw

It is 8 November.

England are about to tackle the All Blacks at Twickenham.

For captain Chris Robshaw, matchday starts with a lie-in; he has his own room due to his thunderous snoring. Then comes breakfast, a massage and some physio if required before the forwards go through a couple of plays while the backs play a passing game.

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Regrets: Former England manager Martin Johnson.

England legend Martin Johnson has finally broken his silence on the team’s World Cup embarrassments off the field in New Zealand, saying he lamented the way “rugby got dragged through the mud”.

Under Johnson’s command as coach, England’s 2011 campaign lurched from one disaster to another including: drunken players involved in a dwarf-throwing competition in a Queenstown bar, Mike Tindall being photographed with an ex-girlfriend, inappropriate comments being made to a female hotel worker, and Manu Tuilagi jumping off a ferry into Auckland’s harbour.

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Dylan Hartley

Dylan Hartley

When the World Cup kicks off in a little under a year’s time, England will have played all but one of the other nine sides in the top ten of the current IRB World Rankings. Psychologically, it is a huge 12 months for next year’s hosts.

In the past few seasons, they have made huge strides in the right direction – but they are not the finished product yet.

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Rugby World Cup 2015There’s a year to go until the World Cup – just enough time for it to be turned into an eligibility farce.

The potential for the game’s biggest event to be laughed out of town is growing. The prospect of teams turning up with legions of players who don’t really have a strong link to the jersey they wear is real.

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The great Peter Cranmer makes a break against Wales in 1935

The great Peter Cranmer makes a break against Wales in 1935

International coaches – and selection panels before them – traditionally prize solidity at centre, and nowhere more than in England.

Which is not to say that they’ve not had great creative centres; Jeff Butterfield, Jerry Guscott and Will Greenwood had talents that would have been welcomed in any team in the world.

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Premiership clubs

Premiership Clubs have been given dispensation by the IRB to start playing on 17 October next year, during the World Cup’s knockout stages.

The Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby have settled their dispute over World Cup compensation, the governing bodies have announced.

England’s 12 clubs are likely to share £13 million provided by the RFU and have been cleared to play matches during the knockout stage of the tournament.

“It’s a reflection of the strength of the partnership that once again we have managed to come to an arrangement that benefits both the RFU and clubs,” RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said.

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Matthew Burke

Matthew Burke

The school term has finished and the report cards have been dispatched.

This makes it as good a time as any to deliver a summary on how the Wallabies have fared since Ewen McKenzie took over the top job 14 months ago.

Record wise, the Wallabies are on an impressive run, winning 11 of their past 12 games, but the goal has to be to win against the top nations, South Africa and the All Blacks.

They have achieved one of those two desired outcomes.

Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons I have observed during the opening stages of the McKenzie era:

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England's rugby jersey

NEW DESIGN: England’s rugby jersey features a pattern of crosses resembling the Victoria Cross.

There’s no sign of a change in design, but the Rugby Football Union has issued an apology over the controversial new jersey England will debut against the All Blacks in London in November.

The jersey, manufactured by Canterbury, has drawn criticism for its use of rubber grips across the chest area in the shape of the hallowed Victoria Cross. They were intended to help deaden the impact of the ball and help with grip.

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England

England’s new alternate strip

England have broken the mould with their new kit as they have moved the rose to the centre of the shirt for the first time.

The kit will be worn by England throughout the 2014-15 campaign with a new strip unveiled before the start of next year’s World Cup.

In addition to the new-look home shirt, England have reverted back to a traditional red change strip which will be worn against Samoa in the autumn internationals.

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James Simpson-Daniel

James Simpson-Daniel

Gloucester and England back James Simpson-Daniel has confirmed his retirement after failing to recover from an ankle injury.

The 32-year-old winger has been sidelined since last November when he suffered an horrific ankle injury in an LV= Cup fixture against Newcastle Falcons at Kingsholm.

Sinbad, as he is affectionately known by all connected with Gloucester, has battled bravely in an attempt to regain full fitness but has reluctantly been forced to admit defeat.

Despite the desperately disappointing news, Simpson-Daniel preferred to dwell on the positives when he spoke to the club website.

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Tom Wood

Tom Wood makes ground against the All Blacks in the summer.

Northampton flanker Tom Wood has said that the England squad has been told they have to get much fitter in the light of their series whitewash by New Zealand in the summer.

In an interview in the Daily Telegraph, Wood said that one of the issues is that the week-in, week-out club game no longer prepares players well enough for the rigours of the international game.

“International level is dramatically different to the club game,” he said. “We have been shown data that illustrates that.

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Aviva Premiership

The Aviva Premiership is threatening to continue with their league schedule

Premiership Rugby has threatened to continue with their league programme during next year’s Rugby World Cup unless a deal can be reached with the RFU.

Tensions have been running high between Premiership Rugby and the RFU in recent months.

Premiership Rugby are upset after the RFU failed to consult them over the bid for the Rugby World Cup.

They are now seeking a compensation deal of £14 million from the RFU as they will have to shut down the league while the Rugby World Cup is taking place in England.

With the global showpiece scheduled to take place between September and October, England’s Premiership clubs will have no matchday income for five months – as the tournament finishes at the end of May – and according to projections each top tier club are set to lose £1.2 million.

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Emily Scarratt

Feminine side: Emily Scarratt receives the England Women’s Player of the Year award in 2013.

The hostility Emily Scarratt suffered for wanting to play rugby as a teenager was made to look even more absurd when she sealed England’s World Cup triumph last Sunday with a superb individual try.

Like the rest of her team-mates, Scarratt is only too aware of the cliches surrounding women’s rugby.

‘Leave it to the men,’ the dinosaurs say. ‘The rugby field is no place for girls’.

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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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England Women

England claimed the Women’s Rugby World Cup after defeating Canada in the final.

England were crowned champions after beating first-time finalists Canada 21-9 in an enthralling Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 title decider at Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris on Sunday.

Hosts France overcame Ireland 25-18 to finish third, while four-time champions New Zealand ran riot against the USA and Australia beat Wales to secure fifth and seventh place. Spain overcame South Africa for ninth place and Samoa picked up their first win to condemn Kazakhstan to 12th place.

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Women's Rugby World Cup 2014England will be aiming to end a run of three straight defeats in Women’s Rugby World Cup finals when they meet Canada in Paris on Sunday.

The Red Roses, who claimed their only world title in 1994, were beaten by New Zealand in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

Gary Street’s team are favourites to beat a Canadian side who will be appearing in their first final.

But England captain Katy Mclean warned: “As soon as you start thinking about lifting cups is when you fall over.”

New Zealand, winners of the last four World Cups, were knocked out of the competition at the pool stage after a shock defeat by Ireland.

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Jaco Coetzee

Jaco Coetzee

Glenwood’s Jaco Coetzee has been selected to captain the SA Schools team for 2014 against France, Wales and England.

Their first match is against France at the City Park Stadium in Cape Town on 15 August, followed by Wales at Outeniqua Park in George on 19 August, and England at the Paul Roos Markötter grounds in Stellenbosch on 23 August.

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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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Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has called together a group of 55 players for a four-day training camp in Loughborough.

The squad will report to the university this afternoon for strength and conditioning assessments as well as rugby training before departing at lunchtime on Wednesday.

This is the first time the players have met since the three Test tour to New Zealand last June, with the majority of the travelling party attending.

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Women's Rugby World Cup 2014Defending champions New Zealand got their World Cup defence off to a strong start on day one of the tournament while wins for hosts France, Canada, Australia, England and Ireland mean the competition is set for more classic match-ups before the 17 August final.

The seventh Women’s Rugby World Cup saw sell-out crowds watch six top-quality matches at FFR headquarters in the French capital.

Ireland beat their Pool B rivals USA in a match that could be crucial for the progress of the girls in green, while Australia and England impressed in their pool openers.

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Richard Hill

Richard Hill

England Rugby World Cup winning flanker Richard Hill MBE has been appointed by the RFU as Player Pathway Liaison Manager.

The consultancy position will see Hill, a 2003 World Cup winner, play an important role with England’s international performance coaches to help identify, mentor and develop young players, between the ages of 15-19, both on and off the field.

He will also liaise between the RFU’s rugby executive staff and key external stakeholders of the governing body.

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Glasgow 2014There is a palpable level of excitement in the country ahead of the Commonwealth Games which will be held in Glasgow this year. Driving up the road over the weekend one was reminded by overhead sign boards long before reaching Glasgow of the need to plan ahead  and potential difficulties in travelling as a result of the Games.

The online search engine Google has the theme of the games on its page, there is a lot of coverage in the media both online, in print and of course in audio and visual. Radio schedules have already been changed on some stations providing coverage already ahead of the Games which are due to get kick started with the opening ceremony tonight. In advertising it’s radio coverage the national broadcaster has even made a pledge to bring all the action of Scotland’s medal winning events live to the public. Colleagues have members of their family involved on a voluntary basis as ambassadors for Glasgow 2014 with some having already been helping out in the Athletes Village for the last two weeks.

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Ugly Jerseys

“And then people want to know why we take drugs, to forget the fact that we are dressed as turds, that’s why”

In rugby, like most sports, teams and athletes have had a bad playing strip or two. Individual sports that comes to mind is cycling and golf. There have been some truly terrible creations that those athletes have worn, all in the name of sponsorship and moolah.

In rugby, its generally the alternate, or so called away strip, where designers indulge in a bit too much whacky weed before sitting down in front of the drawing boards. For the most part, kits are practical and speak of tradition and history, however, there are times that the Sporting and Designing Gods sincerely fall out and abominations like the ones that appear below.

These choices of ours are by no means exhaustive and is fairly recent in it’s selection, however, if you disagree, let us know and tell us which ones you think should have made the cut.

There’s ccertainly been some strange kit in recent years!

It appears the Kit sponsors want to stamp some sort of mark on their creations, so prepare yourself for some more strange jerseys in future!

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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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Alistair Hargreaves

Alistair Hargreaves

Alistair Hargreaves has been appointed as the new Saracens captain. The Springbok lock forward, 28, succeeds Steve Borthwick, who retired at the end of last season.

The former Sharks man has been with the Saracens since 2012, born and schooled in Durban he played for the Sharks from under-19 level.

He has been capped four times for the Springboks, the last of those coming in the 2011 Tri-Nations tournament.

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RWC2015FijiFiji have qualified as Oceania 1 for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England by beating the Cook Islands 108-6 in Lautoka. The Flying Fijians scored 17 unanswered tries in a runaway victory in front of their adoring home fans at Churchill Park.

Fiji join hosts England, Australia, Wales and the yet to be determined Repechage winner in Pool A, and will have the honour of playing England at Twickenham in the opening match of the tournament on 18 September.

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New ZealandNew Zealand rugby writers have hailed the All Blacks record-equalling performance to trounce England in the third Test on Saturday, seeing it as a set-back for England’s World Cup hopes.

The “muscularity” of the All Blacks forwards was given as much credit as the flair of the backs who scored all five tries and ran England ragged, particularly in the first half.

“As good as it gets” said Fairfax Media, echoing the thoughts of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, while the Herald on Sunday praised the “well-oiled All Black machine”.

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